COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - The City of Colorado Springs has agreed to settle a lawsuit that accused police of pulling two men over because of their race.
Under the terms of the settlement, the city will pay $212,000 and has agreed to revise some of its policies.
The suit was filed by the ACLU on behalf of brothers Ryan and Benjamin Brown after Ryan Brown posted video of the incident on YouTube and it went viral. You can watch the video at the bottom of this article.
The suit alleged that the brothers were pulled over because they were black men driving in a predominantly white neighborhood and that police handcuffed, searched and detained them at gun point and taser point without legal justification.
“The racial profiling that Ryan and Benjamin Brown endured is still, unfortunately, all too common for young men of color,” said ACLU of Colorado legal director Mark Silverstein. “The difference, in this case, is that Ryan preserved video evidence of the officers’ aggressive escalation and heavy-handed use of force. Although the police department initially refused to acknowledge any wrongdoing, city officials ultimately did the right thing by agreeing to fair compensation.”
Silverstein also is the lead attorney in the case.
"The first step was to deal with the charge that was lodged by one of the officers, which was some kind of obstruction or interference charge," he said.
Of the $212,000 that the city has agreed to pay, the Brown brothers will each receive $76,646.30. The ACLU Foundation of Colorado will receive $58,707.40 to cover legal expenses.
The policy changes the police department agreed to include updating department policy to clearly identify the constitutional requirements that must be met before an officer may conduct a pat-down search, and removing language that gave undue weight to an individual's refusal to cooperate as a factor in establishing probable cause for a search or arrest. The department also agreed to update its policy on recording police officers to reflect constitutional and statutory protections against unjustified seizures of electronic devices.
Silverstein said he's disappointed the settlement didn't force more changes within the police department.
"They don't require their officers to (denote) in a report that they conducted a pat-down frisk, nor are they required to record the facts they rely on to justify it," he said. "But I'm satisfied with the outcome. It's a good settlement. The Browns are satisfied, as well."
Silverstein said the Browns have declined media interviews.
Under the settlement terms, Colorado Springs Police Chief Pete Carey will meet privately with the Browns at a future date.
Several people commented Thursday on the case.
"It needs to go to court, and that way, everyone gets an opportunity to really understand what's going on and it'd be more public," Ivan Rouse, an African-American in Colorado Springs, said. "When we pay off somebody, we sweep it underneath the rug."
"Of course (the case) bothers me," said Jill Altman, of Colorado Springs. "I wish instances like this did not happen, and I'm sorry that it did. But I'm sure there are two sides to the story, and I don't know both sides."