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A Black family of five was awarded $1.9 million to settle their lawsuit against the City of Aurora, Colorado, after being wrongfully detained at gunpoint by police officers in 2020. The officers had mistakenly identified their SUV as a stolen vehicle.

The family, consisting of Brittney Gilliam, her daughter, sister, and two nieces, experienced the traumatic event while attempting to go for a nail salon visit. The incident was captured in a widely circulated video and showed the children lying on the ground, handcuffed and distressed. The video sparked outrage and brought further scrutiny to the Aurora Police Department, already criticized for its use of excessive force and the controversial death of Elijah McClain in 2019.


The lawyer representing the family, David Lane, highlighted the importance of the settlement in addressing the recurring issue of excessive force used by the Aurora Police Department. According to the ACLU of Colorado, Aurora paid $4.6 million in settlements in at least eleven police brutality cases between 2003 and 2018. In 2021, the city paid $15 million to the family of Elijah McClain over the 2019 incident that ended his life.


Further investigations into the Aurora Police Department have revealed a pattern of racially biased policing, excessive force, and a failure to adhere to legal requirements for recording interactions with the community.


Following the incident, prosecutors decided not to charge the officers who had drawn their guns and handcuffed the children. The decision not to charge the officers caused a public outcry and underscores the complexities of legal accountability in cases of police misconduct.


The settlement, divided equally among the family members, aims to compensate for the trauma and avoid further distress that a deposition or trial might cause, especially for the children involved. The family's ordeal, described as a "horror show" in their lawsuit, highlights the lasting psychological impact of such encounters.

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