(CNN)Aurora, Colorado, police issued an apology Monday after drawing guns on a woman and four minors after mistaking her car for one that had been stolen.
Aurora Police Department apologizes after officers draw weapons on Black family in stolen vehicle mix-up
Brittney Gilliam was with her 6-year-old daughter, 12-year-old sister and 14- and 17-year-old nieces Sunday when police drew their weapons on them. Gilliam said she, her sister and 17-year-old niece were handcuffed while police verified that the car Gilliam was driving was not stolen.
A Facebook video shows the children on the ground in a parking lot, surrounded by police. They can be heard crying in the video. Onlookers try to intervene and question police about pulling their guns on their girls.
Gilliam and the four girls all are Black.
The incident comes amid a nationwide reckoning over police treatment of Blacks, spurred partly by the death in police custody of George Floyd in Minneapolis in May. Aurora police also have been under scrutiny for the 2019 death of Elijah McClain, a Black man who suffered a heart attack after police detained him.
"I have called (Gilliam's) family to apologize and to offer any help we can provide, especially for the children who may have been traumatized by yesterday's events," newly appointed Chief of Police Vanessa Wilson said late Monday. "I have reached out to our victim advocates so we can offer age-appropriate therapy that the city will cover."
In an interview with CNN, Gilliam said she was taking the girls to get their nails done the day of the incident. Her niece had just gotten back in the vehicle after looking to see whether the nail salon was open and she and the girls were parked in a parking lot with the car turned off, Gilliam said, when Aurora police pulled up behind her vehicle with guns drawn and yelled for them to put their hands out of the window and to get out of the car.
Gilliam and the girls got out of the vehicle and were told to lie face down on the ground, she said. At that time, police handcuffed Gilliam, her sister and niece. Gilliam said the police wouldn't tell her why she was pulled over until she was handcuffed.
Aurora police told Gilliam her vehicle was stolen, she said. Gilliam said she told them her vehicle has been stolen in February, but that it was cleared up. She said she offered to show them the vehicle registration and insurance paperwork.
Gilliam's attorney emphasized to CNN that when the vehicle was stolen in February, it was returned to her the next day by the Aurora Police.
Gilliam said she asked why the kids were being handcuffed and she was told officers handcuff kids when they get hostile.
"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.
Gilliam said police later told her about the mix-up.
Colorado Gov. Jared Polis called the incident "horrible and painful to watch."
"As a father of children of similar age, I could only i