The two brothers were driving just a block away from their home when Benjamin, the driver, noticed police lights flashing in the rearview mirror. After a taser-wielding officer ordered him out of the car, he was handcuffed, searched without cause, and detained in the back of a police vehicle, even though he had been cooperative, no weapons or contraband were found, and there was no evidence to suggest that he had been involved in a crime.
Ryan Brown began recording the scene on his phone. His repeated requests for the officers to identify the reason for the stop were ignored. Officers worked together to force him out of the car, push him to the ground, face down in the snow, search him, and cuff him, all the while at gunpoint.
While dragging Brown out of the car, officers on the video are heard saying that he is not under arrest and that they were just checking him for weapons. No weapons were found. Officers took his phone, turned off the video, and threw it in the snow.
Benjamin Brown was cited for a cracked windshield, and Ryan Brown was charged with “interfering with official police duties.” Later that day, Ryan Brown provided his recording to the Colorado Springs Police Department to accompany his official complaint to internal affairs about the officers’ conduct. The ACLU announced in May that it will defend the Browns in criminal court.
“No reasonable person could watch Ryan’s video and conclude that two young white men would have been treated the same way. Similarly, it is unfathomable how internal affairs could possibly conclude that the officers’ conduct was justified, legal, or proper. We look forward to receiving the internal affairs file and reviewing the reasoning and explanation for the department’s conclusions. “
The ACLU encourages people to record their interactions with police. This summer, the ACLU of Colorado will launch Mobile Justice Colorado, a free smartphone app that allows people to record video that automatically uploads to the ACLU, preventing law enforcement from deleting or destroying it.