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‘Three Years, It Didn’t Go to Waste’: City of Milwaukee Apologizes, Approves NBA Player Sterling Brown’s $750K Settlement for His Violent Arrest In 2018

The Milwaukee Common Council has approved a $750,000 settlement for NBA player Sterling Brown. The former Milwaukee Bucks player filed a lawsuit against the city following his manhandling by Milwaukee police more than three years ago. 

Brown, who now plays small forward for the Houston Rockets, was arrested, tased, tackled, and stepped on by city police officers in 2018. The incident initiated around 2 a.m. on Jan. 26, 2018, when an officer approached Brown about parking in a space for the handicapped outside of a drugstore. Brown’s legal claim said authorities used excessive force that violated the Fourth Amendment, according to a letter from Milwaukee’s Office of the City Attorney to Milwaukee’s Common Council. 

NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA – JANUARY 30: Sterling Brown #0 of the Houston Rockets reacts against the New Orleans Pelicans during a game at the Smoothie King Center on January 30, 2021 in New Orleans, Louisiana. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images)

The settlement was approved 14-0 on Tuesday, May 4, with Alderman Mark Borkowski abstaining. However, it did not admit to violating Brown’s constitutional rights, which his attorney, Mark Thomsen, had pursued during talks with the city. Instead, it’s an apology from the city and Milwaukee police that “recognizes that the incident escalated in an unnecessary manner and despite Mr. Brown’s calm behavior.”

The officer who commenced the altercation had since been reassigned from patrol responsibilities. Furthermore, body camera footage from that night is now being used to train other officers.  

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported that “The settlement agreement includes a number of reasonable and appropriate provisions. Importantly, the policy and rule changes will help improve policing in Milwaukee and directly incorporate anti-racism provisions.”

The 26-year-old appears to be content with the case’s outcome, telling the Milwaukee Journal, “Three years, it didn’t go to waste because we came out on the other end with something positive.” He added, “So, really, overall, this has been a learning experience.”

Thomsen, said, “With this settlement, the city turns a page and embraces the 21st century, where we will insist on recognizing citizens’ rights, human rights and developing a police force of peace officers to work with the community to better our city.” He continued, “At the end of the day, Mr. Brown wanted to implement policy, and he did. And rather than holding out for the admission for himself, changing the future for young people, people of color in this city, was crucial.”

In 2019, Thomsen revealed that after the Common Council had approved a $400,000 settlement offer, he didn’t expect a settlement moving forward without admission that his client’s rights were violated. He also noted that the amount offered was insulting, saying it undervalued the abuse imposed on the athlete. 

Brown says the money from the settlement will be used for programming and other efforts through his foundation, The Brown Brother SALUTE Foundation.

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