Warning: The video below is extremely disturbing.
13 June 2019 | Meg O’Connor | Phoenix New Times
Shocking footage of a Phoenix police officer telling a 22-year-old man, “I’m gonna put a fucking cap in your fucking head” has sparked backlash against a department already reeling from the revelation last week of racist social media posts from officers.
Now, the man and family in the video — Dravon Ames, his pregnant fiancée, Iesha Harper, and their two young children — have filed a notice of claim against the city of Phoenix. The family is seeking $10 million in damages. Former Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne is representing the family.
Video of the May 29 encounter with Phoenix police near 36th and Roosevelt streets show several Phoenix police officers, some with guns drawn, surrounding the car of the couple and their two young children. It’s unclear what preceded the encounter, but Ames said it all began after their daughter walked out of a Family Dollar store with a doll.
In the video, officers can be heard screaming and cursing at the couple in front of their children to “put your fucking hands up.” One officer can be seen pointing a gun at the car with the children inside, while another can be heard saying, “You’re gonna fucking get shot!”
At one point, an officer slams Ames’ face against a police car, then kicks his legs apart. Meanwhile, another officer attempts to yank Harper’s 1-year-old daughter out of her arms.
According to the notice of claim, the officer also punched Ames in the back while he had him pressed up against the police vehicle. Ames, who works at a warehouse, said he has suffered physical injuries as a result of the encounter.
The family also alleges that one of the officers injured their 1-year-old child when he attempted to yank the baby out of Harper’s arms.
Warning: This video is extremely disturbing.
“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. 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 notice of claim states.
“The first officer pulled the baby by the arm to get her away from the mother, which injured the arm, in a condition known as ‘dead arm.’ Island [the couple’s 1-year-old child] has been having nightmares and wetting her bed, which she has not done before this incident,” it states.
Harper also alleges one of the officers told her he “could have shot you in front of your fucking kids” while she was detained and handcuffed in the back of a police car.
Phoenix police say they’re investigating the incident, but did not respond to emails from Phoenix New Times asking for an interview with Chief Jeri Williams and for the names of the officers involved. Ames believes the especially aggressive officer’s last name may be Meyer, Meyers, or Myers, according to the notice of claim.
Phoenix police commented to ABC15 (KNXV-TV) that the officer who cursed, threatened, and roughed up Ames is on a “non-enforcement assignment.” The other officer who pointed a gun at Harper and her children inside the vehicle remains on patrol.
Footage of the incident spread quickly online and sparked backlash, with dozens of people, including a few state lawmakers, criticizing the department for having officers on the force as irrationally aggressive as the ones seen in the video.
“We’re thinking we’re gonna get shot cause he kept threatening, ‘I’m gonna shoot you in the face,'” Ames told New Times on Wednesday “We were so scared.”
Two videos recorded by residents of the apartment complex begin in the middle of the encounter. It is unclear from the videos what preceded it or why the officers are using such force to detain the couple. The Phoenix Police Department has not provided any additional information about the incident, but did confirm in a statement on Facebook that the interaction was prompted by a “shoplifting incident.”