Last summer, a Black family was held at gunpoint by Phoenix police after their 4-year-old daughter walked out of a Family Dollar store with a doll. Video of the incident went viral, and the family filed a $10 million suit against the city.
Over a year later, the family is expected to receive $475,000 from the city of Phoenix, according to AZ Central. Tom Horne, Arizona’s former attorney general and the attorney for Dravon Ames and Iesha Harper, filed a notice of claim seeking $10 million in June 2019, alleging the officers used excessive force. The Phoenix City Council is expected to approve the settlement on Wednesday. Ames and Harper were dropping their two daughters off at a babysitter when an officer approached their parked car.
“Next thing you know, a police officer ... comes up, open the door, banging on the window with a gun, saying he’s gonna shoot us in the face, telling us to get out of the car,” Ames said last year during a news conference. The officers could be heard screaming and cursing at the couple in the multiple cell phone videos taken of the incident.
From AZ Central:
Meyer then goes to the back driver’s side door but could not open it because it was malfunctioning, the notice of claim detailed. He bangs on the window and tells Harper, who was pregnant and holding her 1-year-old, to open the door and to put her hands up. She tells him it wouldn’t open and that her hands were up.
A second officer then comes up to the front seat of the car with his gun drawn and points his weapon at Ames, according to the notice of claim. The officer pulls Ames out of the car.
Another video starts with Ames lying flat on the pavement as a Phoenix police officer handcuffs him. Ames is then pulled off the ground and pressed up against a police car before the officer kicks out one of his legs. Ames is handcuffed at this time.
“He told the father to spread his legs, which the father did,” the notice of claim the family filed with the city detailed. “The officer kicked him in the right leg so hard that the father collapsed, and then the officer yanked him back up. He kept his knee between the father’s legs. He punched the father very hard in the back for no reason.”
Ames was held in the back of a police car for a half hour and Harper for 15 minutes. After another officer arrived to defuse the situation, the couple was released. Neither were charged for the alleged “theft.”
In addition to the monetary settlement, the Phoenix Police Department has implemented some minor changes since the incident. Officers are now required to file a report anytime they point their gun at someone and Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego has created a committee intended to gather the community’s ideas for police reform.
Additionally, former Officer Christopher Meyer, who was heard telling Ames, “I’m going to put a cap in your ass,” was fired four months after the incident. While the Police Department’s Disciplinary Review Board suggested Meyer only receive a 240-day suspension, Phoenix Police Chief Jeri Williams didn’t feel it went far enough.
The proposed settlement is only the latest the city has had to pay due to excessive force. Over the last 10 years, the settlements have cost the city millions of dollars. It comes following a summer of unrest in Phoenix due to police violence. Protests have been held not only for George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, but also Dion Johnson and James Garcia, two men killed earlier this summer by law enforcement in Phoenix.