VIDEO: Is this a case of racial profiling?


Associated Press

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (AP) -- A video taken by a Colorado Springs man during a March traffic stop has gotten more than 30,000 views on YouTube and has become the subject of a Colorado Springs Police Department investigation.

A local ACLU official said it appears to be a case of racial profiling. Police internal affairs investigators have completed the initial fact-finding after the man who recorded the video filed a complaint and shared the footage with police, department spokeswoman Catherine Buckley told The Associated Press on Monday. She said the supervisors of the officers involved, who remained on active duty, were now reviewing the case.

Ryan Brown filmed the video when he and his brother Benjamin were pulled over, the Colorado Springs Gazette reports. The video shows Benjamin Brown, who was driving, being patted down while in handcuffs and then Officer Allison Detwiler opening Brown's passenger door and pulling him from the vehicle with Officer David Nelson's help.

Benjamin Brown says he was sitting in the police car and watched the officers wrestle his brother to the ground at gunpoint.

"I was scared that the officer was going to pull the trigger," he said.

Several fatal encounters with police across the nation have led to a focus on ubiquitous cellphone cameras as ways to document possible abuse. American Civil Liberties Union of Colorado legal director Mark Silverstein told AP such recordings are legal as long as those making them are not interfering with police, a point his organization has had to clarify often after officers have tried to stop such activity.

Silverstein added the ACLU would represent the Browns in Colorado Springs municipal court in cases resulting from the videotaped stop, which he said appeared to be a case of racial profiling and "over-aggressive, over-zealous policing."

Ryan Brown was ticketed for resisting and interference with a public official. Benjamin Brown was ticketed for compulsory insurance and obstruction of view -- a charge his brother believes is related to a cracked windshield.

"How many young white men are stopped for a cracked windshield, pulled from the car at Taser-point and patted down and arrested?" Silverstein said. He said police must have a reason to search for weapons, and that Colorado Springs Police Department rules, like those of many other jurisdictions, require officers to explain why they are pulling someone over.

On Brown's video, Officer Nelson didn't answer repeated questions about why the brothers were stopped.

Police would not comment on the officers' conduct, citing the ongoing investigation.

Ryan Brown told AP that had he not recorded a video, "I would have been convicted based on a police officer's word," adding one of the officers took the cellphone away, stopped the recording and threw the phone in the snow.