Jeri Williams apologizes for 'shoplifting' incident video in Phoenix

Cheryl Sanders
June 17, 2019

Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego is calling for action after disturbing footage emerged of an altercation involving officers and a young family.

On May 29, Dravon Ames and his fiancee, Iesha Harper, said they went on a family outing with their two children, London, 1, and Island, 4, who, without their knowledge, took a doll from a Family Dollar Store, according to a notice of claim dated Wednesday, filed by former Arizona attorney general Thomas Horne, who is representing Ames and Harper.

The mayor of Phoenix has issued an apology for the "terrifying" on-camera confrontation between police officers, a local black couple and their two young children - which went viral over the weekend and sparked cries of racism.

Soon after they left the store, Ames said the couple pulled into an apartment complex to drop their daughter off at a babysitter. "It was completely inappropriate and clearly unprofessional", Gallego wrote in a Facebook post. She apologised to the family and noted that the city would speed up the rollout of body-worn cameras so that every police precinct has them by August.

Phoenix PD says they are investigating the allegations of misconduct, but the family has lawyered up and announced their intention to file a $10 million claim agains the department. Ames was then handcuffed and pushed into the patrol.

"I wish investigations could be handled instantly, but each one takes time and deserves the due diligence before we can discuss specific details", she said. Police said they were made aware of video on June 11.

The couple said they drove to their babysitter's apartment complex, when a police vehicle pulled up behind them, pulled open the driver's side door of their auto and began shouting profanities at them in front of the kids.

The police released one video this week, but there are others online. "I assure you that this incident is not representative of the majority of Phoenix police officers who serve this city".

Authorities said the incident is under investigation.

According to their statements to police, an officer yelled for the auto to stop, and the parents heard the command, but Ames drove off anyway. Then an officer began banging against their window, yelling and threatening to kill them. Police had been responding to a report of shoplifting.

No one was charged with shoplifting because the property was returned, and store employees didn't want the case prosecuted, police said.

Around 2 p.m. on Friday, the Phoenix Police Department released a statement containing more information about the events preceding the altercation.

The two officers pointed their weapons at the visibly pregnant 24-year-old Harper and her children, the video showed and the claim stated.

Ames received a traffic ticket for allegedly driving on a suspended license, impounding his auto, NPR notes.

Chief Williams said she has not yet spoken to the officers involved due to investigation purposes but has had many talks with officers now working on the streets about staying professional and encouraging them.

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