AURORA, Colo. (CBS4) – The Greater Metro Denver Ministerial Alliance called for the firing of the Aurora police officers involved in a recent incident which a Black woman and children were detained at gunpoint. It was after a mix-up over a stolen vehicle.
On Saturday, members of the alliance, which is made up of more than 70 African American ministers, made that call for change standing shoulder to shoulder with Brittney Gilliam, the mother involved in the recent incident. Also in attendance were two other families that shared stories of when they believe they were profiled by police as well this year.
“We don’t want to hear about you have a few bad apples. You have a problem picking apples,” said Pastor Thomas Mayes. “If you don’t pick bad apples, you won’t have bad apples.”
A now-viral video from last week captured the moment Gilliam, her 6-year-old daughter and three other children were detained at gunpoint by Aurora police officers. At the time, officers mistook the license plate on her car for one that was stolen.
“All I hear at night is my kid’s screams,” Gilliam recounted. “Had it had been a white family or a police family, it would have never have happened.”
On Saturday evening, Gilliam was joined by two other families with similar experiences. In May, Naphtali Israel was handcuffed after Denver officers pointed a gun at children in his care.
Days later in Aurora, Angela Davis says her daughter, Jayla Jackson, was detained and handcuffed while driving home. According to Davis, officers at the time were looking for a light-colored sedan that had left the scene of a shooting.
“They drug her and her stepbrothers out of the car, placed them face down on the concrete, handcuffed them,” said Davis. “They were still handcuffed when I got there.”
Aurora Police say Jackson was at the party where the shooting occurred and was in one of two cars stopped soon afterwards.
“Because of the dangerous nature of this call a high-risk traffic stop was conducted and Ms. Jackson and the two other occupants were ordered out of the vehicle and placed in handcuffs,” an Aurora PD spokesperson said via email. “When officers interviewed her she admitted that she was coming from her ‘brothers [sic] girlfriend’s house’ and acknowledged that there had been a shooting. A supervisor stated in his report that she was uncooperative and refused to speak with officers about what had occurred. Once it was determined that Ms. Jackson and the other occupants of her vehicle were not suspects they were un-handcuffed and released.”
The Ministerial Alliance sees each case is unacceptable, so now, it’s calling for major changes. Earlier this week in an interview with CBS4 Political Specialist Shaun Boyd, Bishop Jerry Demmer called for a federal investigation of the Aurora Police Department. On Saturday, he said the alliance would still push for that if the officers involved in Gilliam’s case weren’t fired.
“We’re looking for immediate change, so if she [Chief Vanessa Wilson] does not comply, then we’re going to take the next steps, and one of the biggest ones we are talking about is the calling of the Justice Department,” Demmer said.
“If their mentality, their heart, is not for the people of Aurora, they don’t need to work the city of Aurora. They work for us,” said Mayes.
APD released a statement to CBS4:
“Chief Wilson recently met with the Greater Metro Denver Ministerial Alliance to listen to their concerns, they had a respectful and honest discussion. She is committed to continue to work with them and other community leaders to rebuild trust between the Aurora Police Department and the community we serve.”
Mayor Mike Coffman sent CBS4 the following statement regarding the incident with Brittney Gilliam:
“The incident was deeply disturbing to watch, and I have expressed my concerns directly to the chief of police. A thorough internal investigation is underway, and the district attorney has also announced a review of what happened. I will be carefully following the progress, calling for updates and explanations, and not letting a day go by without a constant reminder of its importance and the need to make changes to ensure our residents feel safe in their community.”