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Colorado DA to investigate after Black women, girls ordered to ground in mistaken stolen-car stop

If the officers involved are found to have committed wrongdoing "I will not hesitate" to charge them, District Attorney George Brauchler said.
Image: Aurora Police handcuff kids
Aurora, Colorado DA announced a probe into the actions of police when they ordered children to hit the ground at gunpoint.Courtesy Jennifer Wurtz

A Colorado district attorney said Friday she will investigate the actions of Aurora police who drew their guns and ordered Black girls and women to get on the ground face-first after mistaking the minivan they were in for a stolen vehicle.

"If our investigation determines that the officers involved committed a crime, I will not hesitate to file charges and prosecute them," District Attorney George Brauchler, who has jurisdiction over Aurora, said in a statement. "I intend to investigate this matter thoroughly and with appropriate haste."

The officers have not been publicly identified.

The girls, ages 6 to 17, were with Brittney Gilliam, 29, mother to one of them, aunt to others, as well as Gilliam's sister when police stopped them in a parking lot Sunday based on the belief that the minivan they were in was stolen, according to family, police and Gilliam's lawyer.

The girls were headed to get their nails done when they were ordered face down on the ground by officers with guns drawn, Gilliam said. A bystander, Jennifer Wurtz, used a cellphone to capture video of the stop.

One of the girls cries, "I want my mother." Another says, "Can I have my sister next to me?"

Two of the children and Gilliam were restrained even after the group was allowed to get off the ground, said David Lane, a civil rights attorney representing the family. Gilliam was put in a police vehicle.

Aurora police Chief Vanessa Wilson said in a statement Friday that she shares "the concern over what transpired, which is why I immediately ordered an internal affairs investigation."

The department said in an earlier statement to NBC News that officers believed the minivan was stolen because it shared the plate number of a stolen motorcycle.

When the officers realized the stolen motorcycle had plates from a different state, they “unhandcuffed everyone involved, made efforts to explain what happened, and apologized,” public information officer Faith Goodrich said in the statement.