‘Could Have Been Dead People in Walgreens.’
One year later police officer still defends his handling of Bucks player Sterling Brown.
Parts of depositions of police officers involved in the detention, takedown, tasing, and arrest of Milwaukee Buck s player Sterling Brown last January have been filed in Federal Court.
Brown was confronted by several officers after he parked illegally in a handicapped parking space at a Walgreens parking lot last January.
Brown has filed a lawsuit alleging the officers violated his constitutional rights. His attorney, Mark Thomsen, filed several deposition excerpts.
This is the first of series of stories publishing portions of the depositions. This is from the deposition of Officer Joseph J. Grams, who first stopped Brown as Brown returned to his car from the store. Brown’s date was in the car at the time.
Grams, in his May 2019 deposition, said his contact with Brown was effective because Brown did not get past him.
Grams: That was the intent; not to get — not to let him get past me because he could have been a fleeing felon.
Thomsen: What do you mean he could have been “a fleeing felon”?
Thomsen: Tell me.
Grams: Well, my thought was that when he was coming out, was that, hey, we have a situation; could be an armed robbery. The car is, as we described before, positioned for a quick exit. It’s the only car in the whole lot; positioned for a quick exit out of the parking lot; so a perfect armed robbery car. The car was running. There was a lookout in the car, and it’s positioned to flee directly out the parking lot. So at that time until we investigated further, I couldn’t let him pass into his car because there could have been dead people in the Walgreens until we verified that; so it worked. Stalled him until other squads could get there.
Context: Gram’s lawsuit alleges that “Approximately ten seconds after first approaching Mr. Brown, and before Mr. Brown had any reasonable opportunity to respond to Defendant Grams’ demands, Defendant Grams unlawfully shoved Mr. Brown” and “less than thirty seconds after Defendant Grams first approached Mr. Brown, Defendant Grams phoned dispatch and requested backup. While Defendant Grams called in his request for backup, Mr. Brown waited quietly. After contacting dispatch, Defendant Grams returned to Mr. Brown again, telling him to ‘back up!’ in a loud voice. Mr. Brown asked Defendant Grams, ‘for what?’ Defendant Grams deceptively accused Mr. Brown of obstructing, and then told Mr. Brown ‘I’ll do what I want, alright? I own this right here.’ Mr. Brown replied, ‘You don’t own me, though.’ “
Later, while Brown was on the ground, “Grams used his right foot to stomp on Mr. Brown’s leg. Then after the Taser was shot into Mr. Brown’s back, Defendant Grams proceeded to stomp on Mr. Brown’s leg with both feet.”
After Brown was tackled, tased, and cuffed, the complaint says, “Grams commented to Defendant Krueger, ‘[i]f the guy hadn’t been such a dick it would have been ‘hey, have a nice day!’ you know? But then I thought, okay he’s being an ass, he’s trying to hide something.’”
Thomsen: When did you first tell any human being that you said it could have been dead people in the Walgreens?
Grams: What’s that?
Thomsen: When is the first time you told anybody that there could have been dead people in the Walgreens?
Grams: I think just now. I don’t remember – at the scene, you mean?· I don’t think there was anybody I told that to.· I don’t recall that anyway.
(After the incident, officers involved in it were directed to take remedial training, where they reviewed body camera footage and discussed flaws in the way they handled the situation.)
Thomsen: Let’s be very clear. At the remedial training, what did they tell you about your pushing Mr. Brown? …
Grams: Okay. Yeah, it should have been more forceful because in that training – I mean, I tried to keep it from escalating; so I just pushed him with my fingers. That training shows that you strike the person straight up in the chest very forcefully to actually move them back. I didn’t do that. I wanted to do try and keep it as low-key as possible; so that’s what I should have done, and I didn’t do it. I didn’t strike him like that, which I should have by the book.
Thomsen: Who told you that at the remedial training, that you should have shoved him?
Grams: Well, I don’t know if anybody — I don’t know if anybody told me that, but that’s what the DAT book says.
Thomsen: My question, sir, was, what did they tell you at the remedial training about your contact with Mr. Brown?
Grams: I’m not sure if they addressed that or how they addressed it.
Thomsen: Lieutenant Stein writes, in quotes, Police Officer Grams displayed resistive and dismissive behavior throughout the remedial regarding the ProComm concepts Police Officer Anderson laid out. What were you dismissing about what Officer Anderson pointed out?
Grams: I don’t think I was dismissive about it. I just didn’t agree with him.
Thomsen: What didn’t you agree with?
Grams: That – he was saying I should have stepped back and let him get in the car, and I didn’t agree with that; so that’s his opinion.
Gretchen Schuldt writes a blog for Wisconsin Justice Initiative, whose mission is “To improve the quality of justice in Wisconsin by educating the public about legal issues and encouraging civic engagement in and debate about the judicial system and its operation.
More about the Sterling Brown Case
- Court Watch: Police Officer Denies Stepping on Sterling Brown - Gretchen Schuldt - Feb 19th, 2020
- The Sterling Brown Case: More Details on Tasing of Bucks Player - Gretchen Schuldt - Nov 21st, 2019
- The Sterling Brown Case: ‘Could Have Been Dead People in Walgreens.’ - Gretchen Schuldt - Nov 11th, 2019
- City Attorney candidate Tearman Spencer releases statement on Sterling Brown case - Tearman Spencer - Oct 11th, 2019
- City Hall: Council Okays Settlement to Sterling Brown - Jeramey Jannene - Sep 4th, 2019
- City Attorney Shifts Blame to Sterling Brown - State Sen. Lena Taylor - Aug 29th, 2018
- Joint Statement on the Sterling Brown case - Milwaukee Common Council - Aug 29th, 2018
- Op Ed: Jim Crow and Urban America - Dr. Robert S. Smith - Jun 25th, 2018
- Brown Files Suit Against Milwaukee Police - Ximena Conde - Jun 19th, 2018
- Chief Won’t Name Cops Who Tased Brown - Ximena Conde - May 25th, 2018
- Sterling Brown incident authenticates predictions from years past - Ald. Tony Zielinski - May 25th, 2018
- Mahlon Mitchell Statement on the Release of Body Cam Footage Involving Sterling Brown - Mahlon Mitchell - May 24th, 2018
- Supervisor Moore Omokunde Statement on Sterling Brown Video - Sup. Supreme Moore Omokunde - May 24th, 2018
- City Hall: Police Reform Needed, Say Council Members - Jeramey Jannene - May 24th, 2018
- Rep. Bowen: Statement on release of bodycam footage of Sterling Brown - State Rep. David Bowen - May 24th, 2018
- Sterling Brown case leaves us with many unanswered questions - Ald. Bob Donovan - May 24th, 2018
- Supervisor Nicholson Statement on Sterling Brown Incident - Sup. Marcelia Nicholson - May 24th, 2018
- Gov. Scott Walker Quick to Weigh in on NFL Player Protests, Silent on Release of Footage Showing Authorities Assaulting Milwaukee Buck Sterling Brown - One Wisconsin Now - May 24th, 2018
- Murphy’s Law: Police Video Gets National Attention - Bruce Murphy - May 24th, 2018
- Black Leaders Organizing for Communities (BLOC) calls for accountability for officers involved in the Sterling Brown video - Black Leaders Organizing for Communities - May 23rd, 2018
- Bucks Organization Statement on Sterling Brown - Milwaukee Bucks - May 23rd, 2018