The Aurora Police Department in Colorado has issued an apology after its officers pulled guns on a Black family and placed a woman and 2 minors in cuffs, because cops thought they were in a stolen vehicle ... which they weren't, and it's even worse than that.
Video of the Sunday incident shows Brittney Gilliam being led away from the car in handcuffs, while other members of her family -- her 6-year-old daughter, 12-year-old sister and 14 and 17-year-old nieces -- are lying on their stomachs in the parking lot.
Clearly, they are terrified and some can be heard screaming and crying ... and Gilliam says her sister and 17-year-old niece were also placed in cuffs while cops verified the vehicle was not stolen.
Gilliam told CNN she had taken the girls to get their nails done, and they were sitting in the parking lot with the car turned off when cops approached from behind. She says the officers had their weapons drawn and told them to put their hands out of the window and exit the vehicle.
Gilliam and the 2 others were placed in cuffs as cops accused her of being in a stolen car. She says she explained to them it WAS stolen in February but returned to her, and she had all the documentation for the vehicle. Cops then realized their mistake.
Interim Chief of Police Vanessa Wilson says she's called Gilliam's family "to apologize and to offer any help we can provide, especially for the children who may have been traumatized" by the ordeal.
She adds ... "I have reached out to our victim advocates so we can offer age-appropriate therapy that the city will cover."
According to the Aurora PD ... cops received a call of a possible stolen vehicle and Gilliam's had a matching plate and description, but turns out -- the plate info was for a motorcycle registered in another state.
The department adds ... "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."
This incident comes as the Aurora PD is already under scrutiny, and facing a reopened investigation, for the death of Elijah McClain. As we reported ... the unarmed 23-year-old was walking home from a convenience store in August 2019 when he was stopped by 3 white cops.
During his arrest, he was placed in a chokehold and briefly lost consciousness. When paramedics arrived, McClain was given ketamine to sedate him, but he then suffered a heart attack in the ambulance and was declared dead 3 days later.
The officers involved in the arrest were all fired, and Colorado's health dept. has launched a probe into the use of ketamine.