After Video Shows Police Pointing Gun at Mother With Children, Phoenix Mayor Apologizes
By Ella Torres
Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego said she was "sick" over a video showing a police officer pointing his gun at a mother and her two children, while another cop slammed a father against a car and kicked him because of shoplifting allegations.
"It was completely inappropriate and clearly unprofessional. There is no situation in which this behavior is ever close to acceptable. As a mother myself, seeing these children placed in such a terrifying situation is beyond upsetting," Gallego said in a statement Saturday.
She said she apologized to the family and will not "allow this type of behavior to go unchallenged." She also noted she is working to speed up the implementation of body cameras in the police force.
Police released video of the incident, which occurred in late May, on June 11. They said they were pursuing the couple after being alerted of a shoplifting incident at a nearby store. Numerous reports detailed that the stolen item was a doll.
The footage shows one officer handcuffing dad Dravon Ames while he's lying on the ground and then picking him up, throwing him against his patrol car, kicking him in the legs and cuffing him once more.
"When I tell you to do something, you f--king do it," the officer can be heard saying multiple times.
Another officer can then be seen pulling a gun as mom Iesha Harper and her two young children, one of whom is in her arms, get out of the car.
The officer appears to put his gun back in his holster when the three are out of the car entirely. Multiple other officers soon arrive at the scene and two appear to try to take the children. Harper, instead, gives them to a stranger.
Ames told CNN the cops did not put their sirens or lights on before pulling the couple over and the officer who drew his gun did not immediately identify himself as a police officer.
Police said in a statement that a store manager called twice about shoplifting. On the second call, the manager said the people involved were getting into their car in the parking lot.
When an officer approached the vehicle, according to the statement, "he observed female #1 drop an item before getting in the car, then the vehicle quickly reversed and drove away."
The car then stopped a short while after and the woman got out before the car drove off again.
Officers learned that she had three misdemeanor warrants and she was subsequently booked.
The couple and their car were found a short distance away at the apartment complex where the video was filmed.
Ames told police he "shoplifted a package of underwear from the store and threw them out the window," according to the statement. Police also said he admitted to driving on a suspended license.
Harper told cops that she and her aunt, who was identified as "female #1," had gone into the store with her daughter. She said that she saw her child walk out of the store with a doll and believed she took it "because they didn't have any money," the statement read.
Harper also said that she heard the officer in the parking lot telling them to stop the car several times, but Ames, who was driving, did not.
The two were not charged because the store manager declined to prosecute.
Police said the video showed "extremely offensive and unprofessional language and actions by officers during the arrests."
"Police Chief Jeri Williams requested the officers involved be removed from the street and assigned to desk duty while an investigation takes place," the department said.
Ames and Harper have filed a notice of claim against the city for $10 million, according to CNN.
On Tuesday, Mayor Gallego and Chief Williams will host a community meeting regarding the incident.
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