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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