Phoenix, AZ – Last month, 22-year-old Dravon Ames, his six-month pregnant fianceé, Iesha Harper and their two daughters, ages one and four, had guns drawn on them by the Pheonix Police Department responding to an alleged shoplifting incident at Family Dollar.
Now, the family is planning to sue the city of Pheonix for $10 million and Team Roc, JAY-Z‘s philanthropic leg of Roc Nation, wants to help.
The disturbing incident was captured on camera by witnesses outside of an apartment complex.
Arizona officers were caught using excessive force and threatening to shoot a pregnant mother over an alleged shoplifting incident. #PhoenixPD do the right thing. These officers are unfit to serve. #BarbieIsForLittleBlackGirlsToo #DravonAmes #IeshaHarper https://t.co/YjMhXPRTUN pic.twitter.com/vz1Vurg9Wn
— Team Roc (@teamroc) June 15, 2019
The video shows a police officer telling Ames “I’m gonna put a fucking cap in your fucking head” and “You’re gonna fucking get shot,” among other obscenities while kicking his knees and forcing his face into the hot asphalt.
It also shows another officer using threatening language towards Harper, 24, as she was holding their one-year-old baby girl in her hands. The police officer can be heard yelling for her to put the child down — although the young mother repeatedly told him that her baby was not able to walk yet.
“Our hearts go out to Dravon Ames, Iesha Harper and their children after this traumatic experience,” Team Roc’s Dania Diaz said in an email to RealStreetRadio. “They deserve compassion and empathy, not to have guns drawn at them and be dehumanized. That video is the picture of hate, shame on you! If they need our help — now or in the future — we are at their disposal.”
To assist with the case, Team Roc reportedly hired high-power New York attorney Alex Spiro, the same lawyer who helped 21 Savage beat his immigration case. The family is currently represented by former Arizona attorney general Tom Horne who filed a $10 million notice of claim against Pheonix last week.
If the city doesn’t respond within 60 days, a lawsuit will be filed.
CURRENT FACT SHEET SUMMARY OF PHOENIX POLICE RESPONSE TO SHOPLIFTING INCIDENT RESULTING IN OFFICERS BEING REMOVED FROM THE STREET AND ASSIGNED TO DESK DUTY: https://t.co/J0rnwiDCV5 pic.twitter.com/aFmpXky5ua
— Phoenix Police Department (@phoenixpolice) June 16, 2019
The incident in question began on May 27 (or May 29 according to the family), when Harper and Ames were leaving a Family Dollar store at approximately 11:17 a.m. and their four-year-old allegedly stole a toy doll. An anonymous citizen who saw her take the doll reportedly notified the police about it.
According to a Facebook post by the police department, the store manager called the police on the 4-year-old — although the manager asserts she did not. Police claim Ames admitted to stealing a pack of underwear and throwing it out of his car window.
The police report states that when officers arrived at Family Dollar, Harper reportedly put her vehicle into reverse and drove away. Soon after, she stopped her car, got out and again, drove away. The police say that’s when they discovered she had three misdemeanor warrants for her arrest.
Officers later located the vehicle at an apartment complex where they apprehended Ames and another woman, who is the niece to Harper. While apprehended, Ames reportedly confessed to shoplifting the pack of underwear and driving on a suspended license.
The report also states Harper’s niece believed they stole the toy doll because they didn’t have any money.
After the police withdrew their guns, ending the traumatizing incident, the couple was released without being charged and Ames was issued a citation for driving on a suspended license.
A Black couple who were held at gunpoint by Phoenix police in front of their children after their 4-year-old allegedly stole a doll rejected apologies from the city's mayor and police chief, calling them insincere.
Dravon Ames and Iesha Harper want the officers involved fired. pic.twitter.com/dTGclyMkgp
— AJ+ (@ajplus) June 18, 2019
On June 11, Phoenix Police Chief Jeri Williams reportedly became aware of the incident as well as the video displaying “extremely offensive and unprofessional language and actions.” As punishment, Chief Williams placed the two officers, identified as Christopher Meyer and Nicholas Welch, on desk duty. She also shared a videotaped message on Facebook expressing her disappointment.
The reporting officers’ account, however, is strikingly different from the family’s version of what happened and fails to mention the two officers drawing their guns, then aiming it at the family while making threats to shoot them.
“At least it will be recorded and we can make a difference,” Ames told the Arizona Republic of what he was thinking while guns were pointed in his face. “We’re alive to tell the story. We’re alive to let people know that this is going on.”
“Behind the desk isn’t good enough for me,” Harper further told the Arizona Republic. “Sooner or later, they’re going to be right back out on the streets. They should be fired. Their job is to protect and serve.”
Watch Phoenix Police Chief Jeri Williams’ message about the shoplifting incident below.
Chief Williams addresses incident which occurred on May 27, 2019 in the area of 3200 E. Roosevelt.
Posted by City of Phoenix Police Department on Friday, June 14, 2019