Council Keeps Delaying on Sterling Brown Settlement
Alderman says deal isn't ready to be approved.
Professional basketball player Sterling Brown made national news in November when news broke that he had agreed to a settlement with the City of Milwaukee regarding his treatment at the hands of Milwaukee police officers in January 2018. The city would admit officers violated Brown’s constitutional rights as part of the settlement, a landmark admission.
But the city has yet to actually approve the deal.
Instead, a Common Council committee has met twice in closed session and little has been said publicly about why things keep getting delayed.
Now a guard with the Houston Rockets, Brown sued the city in federal court over the matter.
The city would pay Brown $750,000, admit a constitutional violation of Brown’s rights and commit to updating MPD standard operating procedures within 180 days under a settlement introduced by City Attorney Tearman Spencer on November 4th.
But the Common Council has twice declined to vote on the matter after spending hours in closed session.
Dale Bormann, Jr., head of the Milwaukee Police Association, and Carmelo Patti, head of the Milwaukee Police Supervisors’ Association, said in a joint letter that Spencer was in “dereliction of duty” because he didn’t keep their members apprised of the settlement talks. They said neither union has confidence in Spencer, who was elected in April.
Three officers were disciplined by then-chief Alfonso Morales over the incident. Multiple officers admitted violating Brown’s rights during depositions. Milwaukee police officer Erik Andrade was fired after he posted racially charged remarks on social media about Brown following the incident.
The settlement is believed by many to represent the first time the city has admitted police wrongdoing in a case.
Brown’s attorney Mark Thomsen previously said that getting the city to admit it violated his client’s rights was an important part of any settlement. The city offered a $400,000 settlement in 2019, but it was viewed as unlikely to be accepted and publicly declared as part of a legal strategy to protect the city against claims for attorney’s fees should the case go to court.
The committee took up the file again on Monday, and spent over two hours in closed session. The committee returned to a public session just after 7:15 p.m. and quickly moved to hold the matter again.
“We did have some discussion on this in closed session. We are not ready to take action on it yet,” said Hamilton in brief remarks before adjourning the virtual meeting.
Tuesday morning, Alderman Robert Bauman told Urban Milwaukee that the settlement isn’t ready to be approved and is being held at the request of the City Attorney. “The impression was that it was ripe for approval and that isn’t the case,” said Bauman.
Neither Thomsen nor Spencer responded to a request for comment.
The city has paid over $20 million in police misconduct lawsuits since 2015. That total grows by several million when borrowing costs are included.
Brown was a highly-visible participant in the team’s participation in racial justice protest marches this summer. He joined the Rockets in free agency.
- City Hall: Council Keeps Delaying on Sterling Brown Settlement - Jeramey Jannene - Jan 11th, 2021
- Rep. Brostoff Statement on Police Union Smears Against City Attorney Tearman Spencer - State Rep. Jonathan Brostoff - Nov 17th, 2020
- City Hall: Sterling Brown Payout Still Being Debated - Jeramey Jannene - Nov 17th, 2020
- City Hall: Bucks Player, City Reach $750,000 Settlement - Jeramey Jannene - Nov 9th, 2020
- Giannis Protest Mural Planned for Bay View Bar - Jeramey Jannene - Jul 2nd, 2020
- 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
Read more about Sterling Brown Case here