DENVER (AP) — Prosecutors are investigating whether suburban Denver police officers should face criminal charges for putting four Black girls on the ground and handcuffing two of them after mistakenly suspecting they were riding in a stolen car, a district attorney said on Friday.
The incident last Sunday attracted national attention after a video of the girls — some in tears — being detained in a parking lot spread on social media.
The traffic stop happened in Aurora, where officers are also being investigated following the death of Elijah McClain, 23, after he was placed in a chokehold last year.
In the incident, officers eventually determined the car carrying the girls, ranging in age from six to 17, had the same licence plate number as the one they were seeking from another state.
Aurora Police Chief Vanessa Wilson and the department are cooperating with the investigation, 18th Judicial District Attorney George Brauchler said in his announcement. He called the public accounts of the confrontation “very concerning”.
“Everyone is entitled to be treated equally under the law,” he said. “No one is above the law. If our investigation determines that the officers involved committed a crime, I will not hesitate to file charges and prosecute them.”
Aurora police apologised after the video taken by a bystander showed the girls, with the 17-year-old and a 12-year-old lying on their stomachs with their hands cuffed behind their backs. A 14-year-old girl was lying next to the six-year-old, also on their stomachs next to the car.
They were heard crying as officers stand with their backs to the camera. A woman on the other side of the car is seen being led away in handcuffs. An officer eventually helped the girls sit up but left them with their hands behind their backs.