Sterling Brown Settlement Approved
City will issue apology and adopt slew of police policy changes.
Milwaukee finally has a settlement agreement with former Milwaukee Bucks shooting guard Sterling Brown regarding a 2018 incident with the Milwaukee Police Department. And it’s a big one beyond the price tag.
The city will pay Brown $750,000 for attorney’s fees and damages, issue a public apology and commit to updating MPD standard operating procedures with a focus on anti-racism and de-escalation.
Earlier language that admitted a constitutional rights violation was removed.
MPD must adopt a number of policy changes centered on how officers are trained and can be discharged.
As part of the deal, the city and MPD agree to reassign the officer that initiated the incident away from patrol duty, revise police standard operating procedures to be explicitly anti-racist, commit to regular anti-racist and anti-discriminatory training, use body camera footage from the incident to train officers on how to avoid unnecessary escalation and establish a discipline matrix for officer behavior.
In total, seven of the MPD standard operating procedures are required to be changed by the Fire & Police Commission. The multi-page documents govern officer behavior with regard to the use of force, arrest authority, training, body cameras, personnel investigations, field interviews and general police practices.
One of the changes will require reports to be filed anytime a firearm is drawn or displayed in an arrest or seizure.
The initial incident drew national attention and widespread condemnation.
Now a guard with the Houston Rockets, Brown sued the city in federal court over the matter.
The Judiciary & Legislation Committee unanimously approved a revised settlement agreement Monday evening.
“There have been extensive negotiations back and forth with various parties,” said deputy city attorney Robin A. Pederson after the committee spent an hour in closed session. He said there would be two exhibits attached to the settlement, one a joint statement from Brown and the city and another detailing standard operating procedures for the police department. “Given the totality of that package, we present it to you with a recommendation you accept it.”
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.
“Getting to this point was not an easy one and it clearly has not been an easy process for this council,” said committee chair Alderman Ashanti Hamilton. “I know this case is not just about Sterling Brown and the incident that night.”
Brown, both in a Players’ Tribune article and through attorney Mark Thomsen, has repeatedly said the concern wasn’t about money, but the practices of the department.
The committee has met in closed session three times since the agreement was initially introduced in November 2020 to discuss it. A formal vote on the settlement was postponed multiple times at the request of the City Attorney’s office for further negotiation between the different parties.
“I am hoping we can embrace the symbolic nature of this case,” said Hamilton. No other committee members spoke on the issue.
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 member of the Bucks’ participation in racial justice protest marches last summer.
Earlier this month Brown suffered facial lacerations requiring “multiple heavy stitching jobs” when he got in the wrong van after leaving a night club in Miami.
The full council will vote on the settlement at its May 4th meeting.
UPDATE: An earlier version of this article said a constitutional violation of Brown’s rights would be admitted. That was included in the November version of the proposed settlement, but dropped from the final version.
- Joint Statement
- SOP 001 – Fair and Impartial Policing
- SOP 082 – Training and Career Development
- SOP 085 – Citizen Contacts, Field Interviews, Search and Seizure
- SOP 220 – Arrest Authority
- SOP 450 – Personnel Investigations
- SOP 460 – Use of Force
- SOP 747 – Body Worn Cameras
- Oath of Honor
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- City Hall: City Must Apologize to Sterling Brown - Jeramey Jannene - May 4th, 2021
- Sterling Brown settlement requires that MPD adopt weapon drawn reporting - Ald. Khalif Rainey - Apr 27th, 2021
- City Hall: Sterling Brown Settlement Approved - Jeramey Jannene - Apr 26th, 2021
- 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
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