(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 Friday.
The incident 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 23-year-old Elijah McClain after he was placed in a chokehold last year.
In the Sunday incident, officers eventually determined the car carrying the girls, ranging in age from 6 to 17, had the same license 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.”
Brauchler is a Republican and a vocal defender of law enforcement, but earlier this year he criticized members of Aurora's police department for helping shield an officer found passed out in his patrol car from criminal prosecution for suspected drinking and driving.
Aurora police apologized 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 6-year-old, also on their stomachs next to the car.