Brittney Gilliam was on a girl trip with her nieces, sister and daughter to get their nails done on Sunday morning when the police suddenly surrounded them in a parking lot.
According to a bystander, officials had drawn their guns and ordered the group of black women and girls to lie face down while handcuffing some of them, police and family said.
The video of the scene, shot by the viewer and shot by NBC Denver subsidiary KUSA, shows the four girls in the group on the floor, some of whom are handcuffed, crying and screaming while officials surround them.
The Aurora police said in a statement to NBC News that officials had “stopped”
“People in the car were ordered to the ground and handcuffed,” information officer Faith Goodrich said in the statement.
When officers in the Denver suburbs found that the stolen motorcycle had license plates from another state, “they handcuffed everyone involved, tried to explain what had happened and apologized,” said Goodrich.
In the video you can hear one of the girls screaming, “I want my mother,” while her hands are held behind her.
“Can I have my sister next to me?” another in the group who was detained says. The girls were between 6 and 17 years old, KUSA reported.
The children were allowed to sit up at some point while two of them still seem to have their hands behind their backs.
Jennifer Wurtz, the viewer who recorded the incident on video, described what KUSA saw.
“I saw a car next to me with four girls in it, my feet were on the dashboard; It was really cute, ”she said. “And next, what I know, the police stop silently and put guns on the kids.”
The police statement said officials’ confusion may be due in part to the fact that the car Gilliam was driving was reported stolen earlier this year.
But Gilliam told KUSA that the car was found stolen the day after it was reported and that there was no reason why the girls were handcuffed and forced to the ground.
“There is no excuse why you didn’t do it differently,” said Gilliam, who filed a complaint about the incident on Sunday. “You could have even told them: Your aunt has a few questions so we can sort it out. ‘There were several ways to deal with it. “
Teriana Thomas, Gilliam’s 14-year-old niece, who was one of the family members who raised arms, said the incident asked her if the police valued her life and safety.
“It’s like they don’t care,” she said. “Who am I going to call when my life is in danger?”
The Aurora police said the officers were trained to “stop high-risk” when stopping vehicles that were considered stolen.
“During a high-risk stop, weapons are drawn and the occupants are asked to get out of the car and lie on the ground,” the statement said. However, the police acknowledged that there are no written guidelines for such stops and “that officials can exercise discretion based on the information they have at the time”.
In a statement released on Twitter on Monday, Aurora’s police chief Vanessa Wilson said she was instructing her team to look into “new practices and training”.
She also said that she would like to offer help to Gilliam’s family. “I turned to our victim advocates so we could provide age-appropriate therapy that would cover the city,” she said.
NBC News contacted Gilliam through her lawyer on Tuesday, but received no immediate response. Efforts to reach Wurtz were not immediately successful.
The Aurora police drew attention this summer when it emerged that three officers had taken selfies that mocked the death of Elijah McClain, a young black massage therapist who died last summer after the city police put him in one He had a stranglehold and injected him with ketamine. He was handcuffed.
The selfie photos were taken in October, according to KUSA. The three officers were released on July 3 because of the incident.