The ACLU of Colorado is representing Ryan and Benjamin Brown, two African-American men who were pulled over, removed from their vehicle, handcuffed, searched and detained by Colorado Springs police over a cracked windshield.
The two brothers were within a block of their home when they were stopped. Shortly after pulling the car over, an officer opened the driver’s door and, pointing his taser at Benjamin, demanded that he exit the vehicle. The officers immediately handcuffed, searched, and then detained him in the back of a police vehicle, even though he had been fully cooperative, no weapons or contraband were found, and there was no evidence to suggest that he had been involved in any criminal activity.
As his brother was being removed from the car, Ryan Brown began recording the scene on his phone. His repeated requests for the officers to identify the reason for the traffic stop were ignored, despite official Colorado Springs Police Department policy that instructs officers to begin each interaction by advising drivers of what prompted the stop. The video recording catches a quick glimpse of an officer approaching the passenger-side door with a gun raised in a shooting position. Officers worked together to force Ryan from his car, push him to the ground, face down in the snow, search him, and cuff him, all the while at gunpoint.
When dragging Ryan out of the car, officers are heard saying he is not under arrest and that they were just checking him for weapons. No weapons were found. Officers took Ryan’s 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 accompany his official complaint to internal affairs about the officers’ conduct. The ACLU announced in May that it will defend Browns in criminal court.
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