Aurora, CO -- The same department who killed Elijah McClain made the news once again last year -- this time for holding an innocent family at gunpoint and forcing them all to the ground because of their own incompetence. Illustrating why police officers can get away with horrific crimes is the fact that none of the officers in that act of terror will be charged — despite blatant acts of terrorism against an innocent family — holding children, ages 6-17 at gunpoint and forcing them to the ground.
Instead of apologizing or even helping the family to understand what just happened to them, newly released evidence, which Chicago defense attorney Mike Buresh obtained under Colorado's Criminal Justice Records Act, reveals cops blamed the mother and the horrified onlookers instead of themselves.
This seems to be a continuation of the ruling in January which cleared all the officers involved. Despite the District Attorney's Office of the 18th Judicial District calling the incident "disturbing," they decided the officers "acted lawfully."
"What happened to the innocent occupants is unacceptable and preventable, but that alone is an insufficient basis to affix criminal culpability to the two officers involved in the initial contact," Clinton McKinzie, chief deputy district attorney in the 18th Judicial District, wrote in a letter explaining the decision, the Denver Postreported.
Sadly, this would likely be the same decision even if the cops had killed a child.
As we reported at the time, Brittany Gilliam was parked in a nail salon parking lot and was looking on her phone to find another one since this one was closed. As she scrolled down her phone, Gilliam and her family quickly found themselves surrounded by cops who ordered them out of the car at gunpoint.
Aurora cops accused Gilliam and all of the children in the car of stealing that car. But there had been no theft and it was police negligence that led to small children being held at gunpoint and forced to the ground.
As CBS Denver reports, Aurora police say they conducted a high-risk stop because of a suspected stolen vehicle. Gilliam’s car had the same license plate number, but wrong state, for the vehicle officers were looking for. Gilliam says her 12-year-old sister and 17-year-old niece were handcuffed while lying on the asphalt of the parking lot. A 14-year-old niece and her 6-year-old daughter were also obeying police commands to lay on the ground.
Police were looking for a yellow motorcycle with Montana plates and mistook a blue SUV with Colorado plates as the stolen vehicle.
“He proceeded to handcuff me and I saw him handcuff the kids, so I started getting angry why are you handcuffing kids for,” Gilliam said.
According to the newly released evidence, police blamed Gilliam's anger as the reason for further terrorizing the family. Officers Dasko and Moen blame Gilliam for upsetting the children in their reports.
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"Gilliam began screaming and yelling more," Dasko says in his report, "which made the younger child cry." Moen concurs that the girls' emotional state was Gilliam's fault. Gilliam "began to scream and yell to the occupants on the passenger side making them visually upset," she writes. "The passengers began to scream and cry."
In other words, the kids weren't scared of the cops pointing guns in their faces and forcing them to lie down on the pavement, they were scared, according to police, because their mother was angry this was happening to them.
The woman who filmed the encounter says she was shocked as well to see the officers holding small children at gunpoint and forcing them to the ground and then begin handcuffing them.
“I actually didn’t know what I was watching when I first started seeing what was happening. I’d never seen a gun that close,” said Jenni Wurtz who witnessed the incident and recorded it. “I went from seeing kids in a car to seeing a gun pointed at the kids in the car. I called my husband and said ‘I don’t know what I’m looking at,’ and he said ‘Hang up and start recording.’”
“They were screaming for their mom and again, this was all a big misunderstanding, so in their mind they’re getting their nails done. It was all happening so fast and something about it was like, this is not right. These kids have no idea what is happening,” Wurtz said.
“I’m livid. I’m angry,” said Gilliam. “Those kids are not OK. They’re never going to be OK. That was a traumatic experience. Would your kids be OK after that? Having a gun pulled on them and laid on the ground. Especially a 6 year old.”
Naturally. as the new report from Reason illustrates, police claimed they did everything by the book and it was a simple typo that led to their stellar officers traumatizing and terrorizing an innocent family. They were just doing their jobs.
It will be the taxpayers who are held liable now.
As you watch the video below, imagine that this is your family being forced to the ground at gunpoint. Imagine that no amount of innocence and obeying the law could prevent it. Next time someone says, "if you don't break the law, you have nothing to worry about," show them this. Then tell them nothing happened to the cops involved.
"When white cops point guns at small Black children, there are no consequences in America," David Lane, a lawyer for Gilliam and the girls told the AP.