As of Monday night, per regional outlet Denver7, an internal investigation has been launched into the officers’ behavior. According to witnesses, a police vehicle pulled behind the family, with an officer drawing a weapon on them and ordering that they exit the SUV.
Interim Chief of Police Vanessa Wilson shared a statement addressing the widely criticized handling of the incident, which ultimately saw the involvement of multiple officers as perplexed witnesses pleaded with them to consider the trauma this was causing the children.
"The people inside of the car were ordered out onto the ground, and some were placed in handcuffs," Wilson conceded in the statement. "Shortly after that, officers determined that the car was not stolen. There is a stolen vehicle with the same plate information but from a different state. The confusion may have been due, in part, to the fact that the stopped car was reported stolen earlier in the year. After realizing the mistake, officers immediately unhandcuffed everyone involved, explained what happened, and apologized."
Wilson added that the city of Aurora will cover the cost of "age-appropriate therapy" for the family.
Brittney Gilliam, who was driving the car, spoke with CNN in an interview published early Tuesday. Gilliam was with her six-year-old daughter, 12-year-old sister, and 14-year-old and 17-year-old nieces on Sunday at the time of the officers' arrival. According to Gilliam, she and her sister, as well as her 17-year-old niece, were cuffed by police.
Gilliam, like witnesses of the officers’ behavior, noted the failure of those involved to treat the children in an appropriate manner during an incident that only occurred due to the officers' own mistakes.
"If you wanted to place me in handcuffs at that point, I would have gladly agreed to that because you had a job to do and you did it under the right protocol, but you pointed a gun at four kids and then you proceeded to start handcuffing the kids," Gilliam said.