Police to pay $1.9m to black family held at gunpoint in Colorado

Police to pay $1.9m to black family held at gunpoint in Colorado
Aurora Police maintains a secure perimeter around the movie theater a day after mass shooting in 2012 in Aurora, ColoradoGetty Images

A black mother and four children, who were held at gunpoint by police in Colorado, have been awarded $1.9m (£1.5m) in a settlement.

Brittney Gilliam was wrongfully stopped in 2020 at a parking lot, along with her six-year-old daughter, nieces aged 14 and 17, and sister, 12.

The incident, which was caught on camera, drew outrage at the time.

Ms Gilliam later sued the officers accusing them of “profound and systemic” racism.

Police in Aurora, Colorado, said they mistakenly believed Ms Gilliam’s car had been stolen and had been trained to perform a “high-risk stop”.

They also apologised for the incident and offered to cover therapy services for the children..

On the day of the arrest, Ms Gilliam and the young girls went to a nail salon and returned to their car after finding out the salon was closed.

Officers then approached the vehicle with guns drawn as the family got into the car.

In footage posted by witnesses on social media, Ms Gilliam and all four girls lie face down in the parking lot.

Ms Gilliam, her 12-year-old sister and her 17-year-old niece were handcuffed.

The children can be heard crying and calling for the mother as witnesses question police about the situation.

“Would your kids be okay after that? Having a gun pulled on them and laid on the ground. Especially a six-year-old,” Ms Gilliam told CBS soon after.

Police said the car’s licence plate had matched the number of a stolen vehicle but from a different state.

Officers immediately uncuffed everyone involved when they realised their mistake, according to Aurora’s police chief at the time, Vanessa Wilson.

On Monday, David Lane, a lawyer for the family, confirmed that a settlement has been reached with the city of Aurora.

“All parties are very satisfied with this settlement,” he said in a statement.

The incident occurred amid a wider reckoning with the policing of black Americans in the US, and at a time when the Aurora police department was being criticised for the 2019 death of Elijah McClain, a 23-year-old black man who died in police custody.

In 2023, a white former police officer was sentenced to 14 months in prison for the killing of McClain.

Source: bbc.co.uk

By David Ryckman