The Sterling Brown Case

More Details on Tasing of Bucks Player

Officer Bojan Samardzic says he understands why Sterling Brown got upset by police treatment.

By , Wisconsin Justice Initiative - Nov 21st, 2019 04:59 pm
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Body Worn Camera Video Release of Sterling Brown Arrest

Body Worn Camera Video Release of Sterling Brown Arrest

Parts of depositions of police officers involved in the detention, takedown, tasing, and arrest of Milwaukee Buck s player Sterling Brown in January 2018 have been filed in Federal Court. This is the second in a series of stories on the depositions.

Brown was confronted by several officers after he parked illegally in a handicapped parking space at a Walgreens parking lot about 2 a.m. Jan. 26.

Brown has filed a lawsuit alleging the officers violated his constitutional rights. His attorney, Mark Thomsen, filed several deposition excerpts.

The City of Milwaukee and other defendants have denied violating Brown’s  rights.

Officer Bojan Samardzic, a defendant in the suit, responded to a call for backup to the Walgreen’s. Samardzic drew his gun during the incident and eventually tased Brown, he said during his May 2019 deposition.

After Brown’s arrest, officers involved – including Samardzic – were ordered by their superiors to take remedial training. Part of that training involved reviewing video of the incident and discussing ways officers could have handled it better.

Thomsen: Now, you saw the video on (Officer Joseph J.) Grams. Mr. Brown was not getting aggressive or evasive or in any way threatening, correct?

Samardzic: I was actually there present, so Mr. Brown was – he was getting more agitated. He was probably getting a little angry. He was raising his voice. So that’s what I saw.

Thomsen: Certainly, you could understand why he might be getting a little upset?

Samardzic: Sure.

Thomsen: He thought he’d get maybe a warning, maybe a ticket, right?

Samardzic: Yeah.

Thomsen: Certainly didn’t expect to be all of a sudden surrounded by six officers, correct?

Samardzic:  Yeah, yeah.

***

Thomsen: We know we have the (video) pause and we know that at this point in time you’re told that there are two sergeants on the job and the sergeants should have told everybody disperse and allow Officer Grams to give the warning or simply walk away,  correct?

Samardzic: More or less.

Thomsen: Okay. Then they play some more. What’s the next pause you recall?

Samardzic: The next pause was when one of the sergeants started looking in Mr. Brown’s vehicle. This angered Mr. Brown. He kind of very quickly, almost kind of like a lunge motion, went up to the supervisor and was like, “Why are you looking in my vehicle?” And then – you know, and I believe the supervisor said something like, “Because I can,” or “I’m allowed to look in your vehicle,” stuff — something like that. They paused it there.

Thomsen: Did one of the pauses take place where Sergeant (Jeffrey S.) Krueger told Mr. Brown, “You should be in handcuffs”? Do you recall that?

Samardzic: I recall that statement. I don’t know if they paused it there or not.

Thomsen: Okay. Did they pause it when Sergeant Krueger said,​ “We’re going to just tow your vehicle”?

Samardzic: I don’t recall.

Thomsen: Is it in an officer’s discretion to have a car towed for double parking?

Samardzic: It would be our discretion, yes.

Thomsen: So if I pull up to a drug store, run in to get meds, you can tow my vehicle?

Samardzic: Correct.

Thomsen: Even if I’m there?

Samardzic: Correct.

Thomsen: And not just give me a ticket?

Samardzic: I could just give you a ticket and let you drive off.

Thomsen: Where is the authority to grab someone’s property?

Samardzic: It’s called an evidence tow. It’s just whatever was – since Mr. Brown was, you know, ultimately tased, arrested, transported to the hospital to get medically cleared, and then conveyed to District 2 for booking and processing, his vehicle was towed due to him being arrested.

Thomsen: That’s an evidence tow?

Samardzic: Yes.

Thomsen: Okay. But if – when Mr. Grams – Officer Grams first came up to him and was just going to give him a warning –

Samardzic: Okay.

Thomsen: — he certainly didn’t have the authority to do an evidence tow, correct?

Samardzic: Correct.

Thomsen: Okay. You can’t do an evidence tow or threaten an evidence tow unless there’s a crime committed or at least reasonable suspicion of a crime, correct?

Samardzic: Correct.

Thomsen: So when Sergeant Krueger said to Mr. Brown, “We’re going to just tow your vehicle,” that was an unlawful statement by your sergeant, correct?…

Samardzic: I don’t remember Sergeant Krueger making that statement. And I also don’t know, you know, whether that was an unlawful or a lawful statement. I guess it was maybe untruthful, but I don’t know about unlawful.

***

Two sergeants on the scene looked into Brown’s car and saw paper firearms targets, prompting them to question Brown about whether he had guns or a concealed carry permit.  That, too, was addressed by the remedial trainers after the incident.

Samardzic: So they said, you know, Sergeant (Sean A.) Mahnke and Krueger stated they observed the paper targets that he had in the back seat of his car that led on to questions about are you armed, do you have a handgun, yada, yada, yada, stuff like that. That caused other officers on scene to be on high alert, including myself. And then ultimately, Mr. Brown was told to take his hands out of his pockets. He would not. And then that caused other people to go hands on with Mr. Brown. And then he was ultimately, you know, taken to the ground, tased, arrested, and conveyed to the hospital.

Thomsen: And is this at a pause? What are they saying in terms of what was inappropriate about that whole process?

Samardzic: Well, they didn’t really say nothing was inappropriate about that whole process. A couple pauses ago, they said that the supervisors should have, you know, handled the officers on scene and not been involved with further in any investigation into Mr. Brown’s parking trouble.

***

Thomsen: Would it be fair to say that during this training, it was very clear that no use of force should have occurred with respect to Mr. Brown?

Samardzic: Depends on who you ask.

***
Thomsen: Certainly you would agree that Mr. Brown, at a​ minimum, should have just received a warning and everyone should have been on their way, correct?

Samardzic: I can agree to that.

***

The questioning turns to Krueger’s lying to Brown about having his car towed.

Samardzic: So we are allowed to be untruthful pending an investigation while we are conducting our investigatory duties. And I believe Mr. Krueger – or, Sergeant Krueger was doing that in his investigation, so that’s why I did not report it.

Thomsen: What investigation was Sergeant Krueger conducting?

Samardzic: I don’t know. You’d have to ask Sergeant Krueger.

Thomsen: Well, here, if you don’t know he’s investigating, why do you say he’s lying while he’s investigating?

Samardzic: I know he’s investigating, but I don’t know what he’s investigating.

Thomsen: How do you know he’s investigating?

Samardzic: Because he’s clearly looking in the vehicle looking to further this investigation.

Thomsen: Or maybe he’s acting unlawfully and he needs to be stopped, right?

Samardzic: I don’t believe Sergeant Krueger was acting unlawfully, otherwise he would have been, you know,  stopped.

***

​Samardzic: So Mr. Brown would have gotten a warning, but then Mr. Brown decided to take his hands and place them on an officer. And at that point, that raises the level of everything, okay. It’s technically a battery to a law enforcement officer. So that gives you more investigative, you know, more room….

As far as, you know, the parking citation, I’m sure Mr. Brown would have gotten a citation and been on his way. But before being issued a parking citation, Mr. Brown decided to place his hands on another officer. That’s what kind of raised everybody’s level of, you know, investigation, everything. It raised everything pertinent with that investigation.

​Samardzic, discussing his tasing of Brown: Well, no use of force looks good, with all due respect. You’re trying to control another human being. So if it were to look pretty, we’d be in the movie business or something.

But, you know, you’re trying to control another human being, make him do something that he may not want to do. So clearly, Mr. Brown did not want to comply, didn’t want to put his hands behind his back. He didn’t want to, you know, get on the ground. Sometimes in situations like that, you’ve got to make sure that you’re safe and that the person complies and is in handcuffs controlled.

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

One thought on “The Sterling Brown Case: More Details on Tasing of Bucks Player”

  1. mkwagner says:

    This white officer just doesn’t get how his behavior and that of the other officers was so abhorrent. It is ONLY with African American men that a parking ticket ends up in the emergency room! The officers overreacted and overreacted and overreacted. Had they shown one ounce of professionalism, there would have been no escalation. Police are to first SERVE and that is what they fail to do when it comes to African American men. So we end up with unarmed men killed and city tax payers are on the hook for millions of dollars because unprofessional police officers can’t do their jobs. These guys need to have their weapons taken away until they learn how to avoid escalating interactions with African American tax payers.

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