Colorado police say no 'racial profiling' in traffic stop video
Ryan Brown made a video of his arrest after a traffic stop by Colorado Springs police on June 8. The ACLU called it racial profiling. On Wednesday, Colorado Springs police say they did nothing illegal.
Colorado Springs, Colo. — A Colorado Springs police officer investigated for a videotaped traffic stop in which a black man was pulled from a car has been cleared of wrongdoing.
Police sent a letter to the man, Ryan Brown, on June 8 saying that the actions of Officer Dave Nelson were legal and proper but offering no further explanation.
The American Civil Liberties Union has called the incident a case of racial profiling. The ACLU announced the police finding Wednesday, saying it was disappointed and was requesting the entire investigative file.
Brown, who is black, recorded the stop after he and his brother were pulled over in March. When the video starts, his handcuffed brother, Benjamin Brown, is out of the car being patted down, and Ryan Brown repeatedly asks an officer to identify himself but gets no answer. The video ends with an officer opening the car's passenger door and pulling Ryan Brown from the vehicle with another officer's help, saying they were going to search him for weapons. They put him face down on a snowy lawn.
In the video, a uniformed officer knocks on the passenger window. Ryan Brown opens the door and asks: "Am I being placed under arrest?"
A female officer says: "You are not under arrest."
Ryan Brown is pulled from the car and wrestled to the ground.
"This is assault," he says. "You see this? You see this? Excessive force!"
The video ends.
The video, which is slightly less than 2 minutes, was posted on YouTube on March 26 under the heading "Our 'perfect' justice system at work!"
Ryan Brown was ticketed for resisting and interference with a public official, and driver Benjamin Brown was cited on compulsory insurance and obstruction of view violations.
Nelson was the only officer investigated.
In a statement, the legal director of the ACLU of Colorado, Mark Silverstein, said no reasonable person who watches the video would conclude that two young white men would be treated the same way.
"The message to the community, especially young people of color, is that they should expect this kind of treatment from Colorado Springs police during the course of routine traffic stops," Silverstein said. "That is unacceptable."
In May, the ACLU made this statement, reported The Denver Post:
"What Ryan and Benjamin Brown experienced at the hands of the Colorado Springs police is sadly all too familiar for young people of color," ACLU of Colorado legal director Mark Silverstein said in a news release. "No reasonable person could watch the video recording of the traffic stop and say that two white men would have been treated the same way."
"Benjamin Brown, the driver, was ordered by police to exit the vehicle at Taser-point, immediately handcuffed, searched, held in the back of a police car, and finally issued a citation for an obstructed view," the ACLU said.
Lt. Catherine Buckley, a police spokeswoman, said she was disappointed in the ACLU's characterization of the decision. She said police can't release more details about the probe, including a more detailed explanation of the decision, without a waiver from Brown.