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Family sues Phoenix police for civil rights violations

by Rachel Lynn Aldrich
Posted 6/17/19, 01:00 pm

The city of Phoenix is facing a $10 million legal claim accusing city police officers of civil rights violations during an arrest involving an alleged shoplifting. The suit accuses officers of pointing guns and yelling profane commands at a father and pregnant mother after they said their 4-year-old young daughter took a doll from a Family Dollar store without their knowledge. Parents Dravon Ames and Iesha Harper said an officer injured their 1-year-old daughter after Harper would not respond to an officer’s command to put the child down. The claim also says police profanely threatened the parents and injured Ames by throwing him up against a vehicle and punching him. A bystander filmed the incident outside the family’s apartment complex near the store.

Phoenix Police Department Chief Jeri Williams said in a video statement released Friday afternoon that she is investigating and that the incident is not representative of the department. “I, like you, am disturbed by the language and the actions of our officer,” Williams said.

Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego on Saturday called the police officers’ actions “completely inappropriate and clearly unprofessional,” adding, “I am deeply sorry for what this family went through, and I apologize to our community. This is not who we are, and I refuse to allow this type of behavior to go unchallenged.”

The police report and the family’s stories conflict on several points, including whether there were injuries and whether the incident occurred on May 27 or May 29. Police said there were other stolen items in the vehicle besides the doll and that Ames did not stop the car when requested. A third woman in the car was dropped off at a different location and was later booked on three outstanding misdemeanor warrants. Police issued Ames a traffic ticket for driving with a suspended license and impounded his car. The police did not file any shoplifting charges against the family because the property was returned and store employees did not want the case prosecuted, police said.

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Rachel Lynn Aldrich

Rachel is an assistant editor for WORLD Digital. Follow Rachel on Twitter @Rachel_Lynn_A.

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  • DS
    Posted: Mon, 06/17/2019 01:19 pm

    Does this story seem rather rediculous to anyone else? I am astounded that any in the police force would behave like this whether or not the family was knowingly guilty.

  • OldMike
    Posted: Mon, 06/17/2019 02:20 pm

    Police tend to get loud and profane and rough when someone persistently refuses to comply with their orders. That appears to be what happened here, following some petty theft by the family. Other reports say the father and mother also had items they had shoplifted from the store, despite their claims this incident was about a doll their child took without the parents’ knowledge. 

    Because so many who are giving accounts of this incident have certain agendas, we will probably never hear a completely truthful report. 

  • news2me
    Posted: Mon, 06/17/2019 04:50 pm

    A lawsuit for brutality is one thing, but making taxpayers pay $10 mil. That is WRONG.

    If the courts don't reign in the extravagance, people will continue to sue extravagantly. 

    There must be a limit. The person doing the brutality doesn't have to pay anything. And the good cops end up with their hands tied when it comes to making arrests. 

    This is just nuts!