Ryan and Benjamin Brown, two African American men, were out for a drive when white Colorado Springs police officers pulled them over. One officer pointed his taser at Benjamin, dragged him from the car, handcuffed him and held him in the back seat of a cruiser, according to a press release from the American Civil Liberties Union of Colorado.
Ryan used his phone to film some of the interaction. He asked for the officers to identify themselves and to say why they had pulled the brothers over. Instead, at gunpoint, they say, the cops dragged him from the car, threw him on the ground, shut off his phone, threw it in the snow, cuffed him and searched him.
Benjamin watched from the back of the police car.
“It seemed like forever,” he said. “I was scared that the officer was going to pull the trigger.”
Ryan was charged with “interfering with official police duties.” The ACLU has agreed to represent the Browns in court arguing the officers’ actions were racially biased.
“Ryan Brown has been charged with obstructing justice, but, as the video clearly shows, he acted calmly and like a gentleman, even in the face of an unjust stop. There was no justice for him to obstruct,” said attorney Dan Recht, who will be helping to represent Ryan and Benjamin in municipal court.
“What Ryan and Benjamin Brown experienced at the hands of the Colorado Springs police is sadly all too familiar for young people of color,” said Mark Silverstein, legal director of ACLU Colorado. “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.”
The ACLU encourages all people to record interactions with police and plans to release a mobile app this summer that will safeguard cellphone footage of police interactions before officers can delete it.
UPDATE: The Colorado Springs Police Department has opened an internal affairs investigation,” says Lt. Catherine Buckley. “It’s premature to talk about the case.”