Phoenix: An Arizona couple is suing the city of Phoenix and its police department for $10 million after a video captured officers drawing their weapons and threatening to shoot the family of four.
On May 29, Dravon Ames and his fiance, Iesha Harper, went on a family outing with their two children, London, 1, and Island, 4.
Unbeknown to them, their 4-year-old took a doll from a Family Dollar Store that they had just visited, according to a notice of claim dated Wednesday, filed by former state Attorney General Thomas Horne, who is representing Ames and Harper.
Dravon Ames, Iesha Harper, and their children at a press conference. Phoenix police officers violently accosted the family whose 4-year-old daughter allegedly stole a doll from a dollar store.
A police patrol unit followed the couple's car, and once the family pulled into their babysitter's apartment complex, an officer approached the vehicle with his gun drawn and yanked open the front door, the claim said.
Despite department rules that require police to wear body-cams, the Phoenix officers were not wearing them, the claim said. But passersby recorded the encounter in a video released this week.
"I'm going to put a cap in your ass," one officer said to Ames as a second policeman, whose weapon was also drawn and pointed at Ames, walked up to the car, according to the video. "I'm going to shoot you in your f—ing face."
Both statements, Horne wrote in the claim, were made in front of the couple's children, who were in the rear of the vehicle.
The first officer pulled Ames, 22, from the car, pushed his head into the pavement, handcuffed him and yelled that Ames better follow orders, according to the claim. The officer threw Ames against the car, ordered him to spread his legs and "kicked him in the right leg so hard that the father collapsed." Then, the officer dragged him upright and punched him in the back, the claim said.
Once Ames was handcuffed and inside the patrol car, the officers refocused their attention on Harper and the children, according to the claim.
Phoenix police are investigating several officers after mobile phone videos captured them threatening to shoot 22-year-old black man Dravon Ames while screaming and getting rough with his pregnant fiance Iesha Harper and two young children. Credit:Twitter
The two officers pointed their weapons at the visibly pregnant 24-year-old Harper and her children, according to the claim.
"The first officer grabbed the mother and the baby around both of their necks, and tried to take the baby out of the mother's hand," the claim alleged. "He told her to put the baby on the ground, which she was unwilling to do because the baby could not walk, and the ground consisted of hot pavement."
The officer tried to rip Harper's infant from her arms, the claim stated. Eventually he threw Harper, who had handed the children to a bystander, into the police car face first, then handcuffed her.
"I could have shot you in front of your f—ing kids," he said, according to the claim.
Since May 29, the 4-year-old has been having nightmares and is wetting the bed, and Ames, whose car was impounded, has been limping and is without transportation to get to work, the claim stated.
Neither Ames nor Harper were arrested or ticketed, though they were detained by the police, the Phoenix New Times reported.
The notice of claim alleged that the police officers "committed battery, unlawful imprisonment, false arrest, infliction of emotional distress, and violation of civil rights under the fifth and 14th amendments of the United States Constitution."
Horne said the city has 60 days to respond before he files the lawsuit.
The Phoenix Police Department did not return requests for comment, but according to the Phoenix New Times, police told ABC15 that "the officer who cursed, threatened, and roughed up Ames is on a 'nonenforcement assignment.' "
In 2018, Maricopa County, which includes Phoenix, was involved in a record number of police-involved shootings, nearly doubling numbers from 2017, according to the AZ Central. Phoenix police officers were responsible for more than half of them.
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