When a parking ticket turns into a tasing: NBA player’s arrest shows everyone’s on edge these days

When a parking ticket turns into a tasing: NBA player’s arrest shows everyone’s on edge these days
NBA rookie Sterling Brown was tased for a parking ticket earlier this year. Now, the police video tells more. (Image source: YouTube screencap)

Milwaukee Bucks guard Sterling Brown was tased while being surrounded by local police following a citation for a parking violation on January 26 of this year.

The arresting officer subtly calls for back-up early on in his encounter with Brown, and additional officers arrive in less than three minutes during their initial discussion.

While the pair pauses in conversation for additional members of the force to arrive, the arresting officer explains “Oh, we’re going to wait. We’re going to wait for my partners…whether you’re getting a ticket…whatever.”

Brown then asks: “You can’t do that by yourself?”

Subsequently, a number of police vehicles show up. In response, the first officer on the scene says repeatedly to his colleagues about their united front: “I just wanted one. I just wanted one squad car.”

Thereafter, things escalate.

Wait. What happened?

Brown reportedly took up three parking spaces when he decided to stop at a Walgreens that night. Okay, that’s…usually considered rude. And I know, that’s against the law, but it’s tough to see what harm was done by his actions. It was also 2am in a nearly-bare lot, so he wasn’t keeping anyone else from going about their business.

But that’s illegal.

Here comes a police officer. And Brown wasn’t overly polite when law enforcement approached.

The body cam coverage of the incident from the arresting officer has now been released, for all to see:

Upon engagement by the officer, both he and Brown took stances to show their authority. 

The officer says, “I own this right here,” to which Brown says, “You don’t own me.”

Interestingly, when the officer asks Sterling Brown’s name and he responds with the truth, it seems like the officer thinks he’s playing games with him — surely this isn’t THE Sterling Brown.

In the follow-up inquiry, outgoing police chief Ed Flynn later said, “We wouldn’t be conducting an investigation into this if we were 100 percent satisfied with our application of our tactics in this manner. What we want to do is ascertain how a parking ticket turned into a tasing.”

I’m no attorney. But it seems a haphazard parking job in a private parking lot might be benign — and therefore of no concern. And for the record: I’m also not a fan of sports…at all. Never heard of Sterling Brown until this incident.

Regardless, the exchange between Brown and the officer left the policeman with the impression he expressed later that Brown had “physically resisted officers’ attempts to handcuff him and he was taken to the ground in a controlled manner.”

The officer also reported that Brown continued to “resist being handcuffed,” and therefore “a Taser had to be employed to get Brown in control with handcuffs.”

Later, Brown said the situation was “an attempt at police intimidation,” that “shouldn’t happen to anybody.”

Okay, what now?

Well, Brown says he’s suing. No charges were brought against him, but he received a $200 parking ticket after being detained for a few hours…and, ya know, the tasing thing.

And he probably has a darn good case. The whole dynamic between himself and the officers was a recipe for disaster, and his promised lawsuit might be just that for the Milwaukee Police Department.

This writer’s perspective: What’s the take? So many questions.

After watching the video:

Does Brown seem disrespectful of law enforcement during the exchange? Yes. Does the police officer who initially approached him come across as overly aggressive to the average citizen for a parking violation in a private lot? Also, yes.

What is it that has escalated interactions with police to the point that distrust has become so elevated between officers and citizens, alike?

Is it race? Is it privilege? Is it entitlement? Is it intimidation? A combination of some sort? Or is it (at this point) two opposing narratives that align against each other virtually no matter the scenario —much like our country’s political parties today.

One can easily spell out what has become two “sides” of this issue, divided between those who support law enforcement no matter what occurs, and those who support anyone stopped by a police officer no matter what occurs.

A true discussion needs to be had about the role of police officers and what they “own,” as the video references. Surely, they have to maintain authority. But there are no clear boundaries — of course because neither law enforcement or citizens can set protocol or parameters for every situation that involves an officer.

But what about taking every case individually? On its merit?

Here’s the truth: Police officers are scared, (especially nowadays) when they approach a prospective wrong-doer with a possible violation or worse. And with good reason. A hero of mine was killed in a routine traffic stop years ago. There’s no way she could have known what kind of monster she was approaching.

And citizens are scared when they’re pulled over, addressed by, confronted by, or whatever interaction they have with the police. That transcends all racial bounds.

I support, appreciate, and respect the police. But this was a parking ticket, people. Surely, law enforcement had bigger priorities that night — but if not, violations are nothing to go searching for.