Milwaukee City Attorney Recommends Settling Sterling Brown Case, Admitting Rights Were Violated

Bucks Guard Tased By Milwaukee Police In 2018 Outside Walgreens

A flag is reflected in the window of a Milwaukee Police Department vehicle
A flag is reflected in the window of a Milwaukee Police Department vehicle Tuesday, Aug. 18, 2020, in Milwaukee. Morry Gash/AP Photo 

The Milwaukee city attorney is asking city officials to settle its lawsuit with Milwaukee Bucks guard Sterling Brown for $750,000 and admit Brown’s constitutional rights were violated when police shot him with a Taser following a parking violation in 2018.

On Wednesday, City Attorney Tearman Spencer sent a letter to the Common Council asking members to consider the settlement.

“Because of the unpredictability of a trial, and the city’s risk for exposure to compensatory and putative damages as well as additional attorney fees and costs, we recommend that this matter be settled for that amount,” Spencer wrote.

Stay informed on the latest news

Sign up for WPR’s email newsletter.

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Before approval, the settlement needs to be introduced to the city’s Committee on Judiciary and Legislation. If the case is settled, it could be a historic first for the city. Last year, the Common Council offered Brown $400,000, but would not admit his rights were violated. Brown declined the deal.

Last year, Alder Robert Bauman said the city would never admit wrongdoing because it would set a precedent for future lawsuits filed against the city.

“As a practical matter, that would in essence make officers forever useless in all the cases they are involved in,” Bauman said in September 2019.

Bauman could not immediately be reached for comment Monday.

Brown’s attorney, Mark Thomsen, said Monday he would not comment until a deal is reached.

In the early morning of Jan. 26, 2018, Brown was parked across two handicap parking spots outside a Walgreens at West National Avenue and South 26th Street, and was talking with a group of officers while waiting for his citation when the situation escalated.

Brown was then surrounded by a handful of officers who stunned him with a Taser because, police said, Brown didn’t immediately remove his hands from his pockets as ordered.

Three officers were suspended and eight were required to go through retraining. Officer Erik Andrade was singled out in the lawsuit for racially charged social media posts and statuses joking about Brown’s arrest. He was later fired.

The Milwaukee Bucks released a statement Monday morning saying they’re happy the lawsuit will be resolved:

“No one should ever have to go through the horrifying abuse and injustice that Sterling experienced. We commend Sterling for his courageous response to this terrible situation by repeatedly sharing his story and working tirelessly with countless local groups and organizations to help make change in our community. And we also commend the city’s leadership for its commitment to implement these important changes to better Milwaukee.”