A family is suing the Phoenix Police Department for $10 million over claims of police brutality after they were accused of shoplifting. Dravon Ames and Iesha Harper said the incident left a lasting mark on them and their children, which could have been prevented if the police didn’t overreact.
According to the notice of claim, which is a precursor to a lawsuit, Ames and Harper, who was then 5 months pregnant, said that during the incident on May 29, they didn’t realize that their 4-year old child took a doll from a Family Dollar Store at 36th Street and McDowell Road until they were in the car. They continued driving to an apartment complex where the police pulled up behind them with “no sirens or lights,” court documents said.
The claim stated their 4-year old and 1-year old children were in the backseat of the car when an officer approached them and pointed the gun at Ames, who was in the driver’s seat. The officer allegedly said, “I’m going to put a cap in your ass.” He continued, “I’m gonna shoot you in your (expletive) face.”
Ames said he was then pulled out of the car, kicked in the right leg, and punched in the back although he wasn’t fighting back or resisting. He and Harper were put into handcuffs while the officer threatened them with profanities. They said officers pointed a gun at all of them, including the little children.
“After this, me and my daughters will never be the same anymore or feel the same for police because it seems like every police is (sic) out for blood or something. We wasn’t (sic) really doing anything,” said Harper.
No arrests were made in connection to the incident. The store didn’t want to pursue any charges because the stolen items were returned. However, the family is filing a lawsuit for the damages. Ames said due to his injuries from the incident, he was unable to work. The $10 million is based on $2.5 million for each family member.
“We’re talking about a little doll that’s worth maybe $5 and the horrors that came from the overreaction to that,” said former Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne, who is representing the family.
Meanwhile, the Phoenix Police Department told a different story in a statement they released. Police said that an officer walked toward the car but then it drove off. When the police found the car, they told Ames and Harper to show their hands. But they refused because Harper was holding the children and Ames allegedly “began to reach towards the center of the vehicle between the front seats” so the officer drew his gun.
When Ames was interviewed, he admitted to shoplifting and throwing a pair of underwear out of the window. They said they were scared when police told them to put their hands up and didn’t know what to do.
Police stated that their car was impounded and Ames was cited but it was because he was driving on a suspended license.
Moreover, Phoenix Police Chief Jeri Williams said an internal investigation is ongoing. She said in a video posted on Facebook, “I, like you, am disturbed by the language and the actions of our officer. I stand by my commitment of transparency and accountability as we continue to complete this internal investigation.”
Watch the raw footage below: