Brittney Gilliam, 29, has filed a lawsuit against officers with the Aurora Police Department
A black woman whose family was ‘traumatized’ after being ‘handcuffed at gunpoint’ in August after police wrongly believed she was driving a stolen car has filed a lawsuit against the Aurora Police Department.
Brittney Gilliam, 29, was driving the car with her young sister Na’Kiya Jackson, 12, her six-year-old daughter Luvly Tubbs, and two nieces, Emonne Gilliam, 17, and Teriana Thomas, 14, when Aurora cops detained them because they believed Gilliam was driving a stolen car.
The lawsuit, filed in Arapahoe County District Court, comes after District Attorney George Brauchler’s office reviewed the case and cleared the officers of criminal charges.
Five police officers are named as defendants in the case, as well as Chief Vanessa Wilson and the city of Aurora.
Gilliam is seeking punitive, compensatory and economic damages to be determined at trial.
David Lane, Gilliam’s lawyer, said the suit is the first to be filed in district court under a new law passed last year amid the summer’s George Floyd protests, KDVR reported.
The police accountability law strips cops of qualified immunity which opens the door for them to face civil suits, according to the outlet.
‘They can be on the hook for up to $20,000 of any settlement or judgement,’ Lane said.
Cops thought Gilliam was driving a stolen vehicle with her daughter, six, her 12-year-old sister and her two nieces, aged 14 and 17. Pictured left to right: Gilliam; her nieces Teriana Thomas, 14, and Emonne Gilliam, 17; her daughter Luvly Tubbs, 6; and her sister Na’Kiya Jackson , 12
DailyMail.com has reached out to Lane for additional comment.
Gilliam and her lawyers claim in the lawsuit that her family was ‘targeted because they are Black’ and cops violated her civil rights granted under the state constitution.
The officers ‘placed an innocent woman and four children at risk of harm by holding them at gunpoint, cuffing and frisking them, and leaving them permanently traumatized,’ the lawsuit reads.
Video of the family being put in handcuffs had gone viral, as the young children can be heard screaming and crying in the parking lot of a thrift store on August 2 during a ‘Sunday fun day’ outing.
‘In response, the APD claimed that the information that had triggered police involvement was from a license plate scanner that indicated Ms. Gilliam’s license plate matched that of a stolen vehicle,’ the lawsuit reads.
‘However, the alleged stolen vehicle was a motorcycle with Montana license plates, not an SUV with Colorado plates, which was what Ms. Gilliam was driving.’
In August, Gilliam told DailyMail.com that she believes if they had been white, police wouldn’t have escalated the situation by drawing their guns or having the youngsters lie face down on the hot ground to put handcuffs on them.
Bystander footage shows four children, aged six, 12, 14 and 17, sitting on the ground of a parking lot
‘I get it, that sometimes the police have the wrong information and have to detain people while they check it out. But to detain a six-year-old child and make the child lie down on the hot pavement face down?’ she said.
‘My child and the rest of the kids are scarred for life after this incident with the Aurora PD.’
Single mother Gilliam, who works at the Denver County Jail in food services, said she wanted to have a nice day out and was treating the kids with a trip to the nail salon and to get ice cream afterwards.
‘The deplorable fact that multiple Aurora police officers held innocent Black children handcuffed and at gunpoint, and multiple other officers did not intervene, is evidence of the profound and systematic problem of racism and brutality within APD,’ the lawsuit reads.