ACLU Wins Dismissal of Criminal Charges against Ryan Brown, Renews Call for Internal Affairs Records Related to Racially-Biased Traffic Stop
DENVER –The ACLU of Colorado renewed its request today for records related to the Colorado Springs Police Department’s internal affairs investigation into the traffic stop of Ryan and Benjamin Brown, two ACLU clients who were pulled over, handcuffed, searched, and detained at gun point and taser point over a cracked windshield.
The ACLU’s request follows a decision yesterday by the 4th Judicial District Attorney’s office to dismiss an obstruction charge against Ryan Brown, whose video recording of the traffic stop has been viewed more than 155,000 times on YouTube.
Brown filed a complaint with the department following the incident in March. He received a brief boilerplate letter in June informing him that police had conducted a “complete and thorough” investigation into the incident and concluded that the officers’ conduct was “justified, legal, and proper.” A subsequent ACLU records request for the internal affairs file was denied due to the pending criminal charge against Brown.
“Now that the criminal charge has been rightly dismissed, there are no more excuses for denying the internal affairs records,” said ACLU of Colorado Legal Director Mark Silverstein. “The public has a right to know how the Colorado Springs Police Department determined that it was ‘justified, legal, and proper’ to remove two African-American men from a car at gunpoint and taser point, handcuff them, search them and detain them, over a cracked windshield.”
Ryan and Benjamin Brown were driving just a block away from their home when they were pulled over by Colorado Springs police. After a taser-wielding officer ordered Benjamin Brown, the driver, out of the car, he was handcuffed, searched without cause, and detained in the back of a police vehicle, even though he had been cooperative, no weapons or contraband were found, and there was no evidence to suggest that he had been involved in a crime.
Ryan Brown then began recording the scene on his phone. His repeated requests for the officers to identify the reason for the stop were ignored. Officers worked together to force him out of the car, push him to the ground, face down in the snow, search him, and cuff him, all the while at gunpoint.
While dragging Ryan Brown out of the car, officers on the video are heard saying that he is not under arrest and that they were just checking him for weapons. No weapons were found. Officers took his phone, turned off the video, and threw it in the snow.
Benjamin Brown was cited for a cracked windshield, and Ryan Brown was charged with “interfering with official police duties.” The ACLU defended the Browns in criminal court and yesterday won a complete dismissal of Ryan Brown’s charge.
“The ACLU has maintained from the beginning that Ryan did not commit any crime,” said ACLU cooperating attorney Megan Downing of Recht Kornfeld PC. “We are very pleased that the District Attorney’s Office did a thorough review of the facts and in the end, full dismissal was the right result.”
Watch Ryan Brown’s video recording of the stop: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WkvPlxps7zo
Read the letter from the Colorado Springs Police Department clearing the officers of wrongdoing: http://static.aclu-co.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/2015-06-08-Brown-Cmdr.-Howard-IA-Investigation-Decision-REDACTED.pdf
Visit the ACLU case page: http://aclu-co.org/court-cases/colorado-springs-racial-profiling/
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