Officer linked to Sterling Brown arrest fired for social media posts, chief says

A police officer linked to the controversial arrest of Milwaukee Bucks guard Sterling Brown has been fired, Milwaukee Police Chief Alfonso Morales said Thursday. The officer was “not involved in the initial incident,” Morales said, adding that the firing was a result of a violation of the police department’s social media policy.

CBS affiliate WDJT-TV reports that the firing took place in the last 24 hours. Morales appeared Thursday at Marquette University’s Law School where he spoke briefly about the case. Morales did not identify the officer, but officer Erik Andrade had been under internal investigation over his social media posts.

Brown filed a federal lawsuit in June against the city of Milwaukee and its police department. The lawsuit alleges the arrest was unlawful and that police used excessive force when officers used a stun gun on him.

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Brown had been talking with officers while waiting for a citation for illegally parking in a disabled spot outside a Walgreens on Jan. 26 when officers took him down because he didn’t immediately remove his hands from his pockets as requested.

Brown was briefly jailed, but never charged with a crime. Hours after the incident, he played in an NBA game with bruises on his face.

Brown’s lawsuit included screenshots of Andrade’s Facebook posts and “racist memes” shared by the officer. 

Hours after the arrest, Andrade posted to Facebook, apparently mocking Brown: “Nice meeting Sterling Brown of the Milwaukee Bucks at work this morning! Lol#FearTheDeer,” according to the lawsuit.

A social media post made by Officer Erik Andrade

The lawsuit alleges Andrade also shared a disparaging meme of NBA star Kevin Durant about three months later. After the department released video of Brown’s arrest, Andrade took to Facebook to write about J.R. Smith of the Cleveland Cavaliers after the team lost Game 1 of the NBA Finals.

The lawsuit contends that “Andrade’s post is an admission that he and other Defendant officers are allowed to engage in unlawful attacks and arrests of African Americans without justification and then relish such events without any fear of real discipline.”

It was those posts that apparently violated the department’s social media policy and prompted the firing.

Morales had apologized to Brown in May when body camera video of the arrest was released. Three officers were disciplined, with suspensions ranging from two to 15 days. Eight other officers were ordered to undergo remedial training in professional communications.

Video of the confrontation shows an officer approached Brown around 2 a.m. When their conversation becomes tense, the officer calls more squad cars for help and eventually eight officers are standing around Brown. One asks him to take his hands out of his pockets and a second or two later the scuffle begins. Almost immediately, an officer yells: “Taser! Taser! Taser!”

Police only released the body camera video of the first officer who contacted Brown. But additional body camera and squad car videos obtained by Milwaukee station WISN-TV showed the moments after officers used a stun gun on Brown. In one, Brown is on the ground and handcuffed when an officer puts one of his boots on Brown’s ankle, holding it there. Brown doesn’t mention being in any discomfort but he questions the officer’s actions.

“C’mon man, you’re stepping on my ankle for what?” Brown said. In response, the officer said he was trying to prevent Brown from kicking anyone.

In another video, an officer appears to call a supervisor to request overtime pay. “I need to go on the overtime board if I’m not already,” he said.

He is heard singing, “Money, money, money, money, money!”

Brown told the Journal Sentinel in an interview in May that he “gave in” when police used a stun gun and that he didn’t do anything to resist because he didn’t want officers to “pull out their guns.”

“I was just being smart. I just wanted to get out of the situation and get home,” he said.

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