A Black woman who was taken out of her car at gunpoint with her underage family by Aurora, Colorado, police officers last year has filed a civil rights lawsuit against the city and police officials, reports NBC News.
The woman, Brittney Gilliam, had taken her younger sister, her daughter and her nieces for a “Sunday Funday” in August when Aurora officers, their guns drawn, ordered her and the girls to lie face down, according to the lawsuit, which was filed Monday in Arapahoe County. Bystanders posted video of the incident last year that showed four girls in the group on the ground, some handcuffed, crying and screaming as officers surrounded them.
Gilliam alleges in her lawsuit that officers searched her and the girls at gunpoint without probable cause or evidence of a crime, targeting the family because they were Black.
“The deplorable fact that multiple Aurora police officers held innocent Black children handcuffed and at gunpoint, and multiple other officers did not intervene, is evidence of the profound and systematic problem of racism and brutality within APD,” says the lawsuit, which also names five Aurora police officers and Police Chief Vanessa Wilson as defendants.
The Aurora Police Department said last year that officers conducted a “traffic stop” under the belief that Gilliam had stolen her car because it shared the license plate number of a stolen motorcycle. Officers later realized that the motorcycle had plates from a different state.
Gilliam was out with her 17-year-old sister, her 6-year-old daughter and two nieces, ages 12 and 14, to get their nails done and venture out for ice cream afterward, the lawsuit says. The family went to a nail salon, only to realize that it was closed, and they were sitting in the parked car looking on Gilliam’s phone for another salon.
That’s when officers approached the car and ordered Gilliam and the girls to get out of the vehicle, saying they would tell them what was going on after they got out, the lawsuit says. Gilliam, her sister and her 12-year-old niece were handcuffed, according to the lawsuit, but handcuffs were too small for her 6-year-old daughter.