Phoenix Police Chief Jeri Williams and Arizona politicians are weighing-in on controversial arrest of members of a Phoenix family last May. Former Attorney General Tom Horne has filed a $10 million notice of claim against the City for highly questionable actions officers took in response to a shoplifting report.
Chief Williams addresses incident which occurred on May 27, 2019, in the area of 3200 E. Roosevelt: https://t.co/F0PQVgq3YG
— Phoenix Police Department (@phoenixpolice) June 15, 2019
Late last week, Phoenix Police issued a timeline of events:
Date: May 27, 2019 at approximately 11:17 a.m.
Location: 1600 N. 36th Street
-On May 27, Phoenix Police received a call for assistance from the store manager to report a shoplifting inside the store.
-During the investigation the store manager alerted the officer to a second shoplifting in progress and the people from that incident were now getting into a vehicle in the parking lot.
-As the officer approached the vehicle, he observed female #1 drop an item before getting in the car, then the vehicle quickly reversed and drove away.
-Moments later the vehicle stopped at McDowell Road, female #1 exited the vehicle and the car again drove away. The officer learned the female had three misdemeanor warrants for her arrest and was booked for the outstanding warrants.
-The vehicle was located a short distance away and stopped in an apartment complex about a mile away. Officers arrested the male driver and a second female.
-The male driver told an officer he shoplifted a package of underwear from the store and threw them out the window, and in addition he was driving on a suspended license.
-Female individual #2 told an officer that her aunt (female #1) and child went into the store together. Female #2 also said she saw her child walk out of the store with a doll and she believed they had stolen it because they didn’t have any money. Also, the female said she heard the officer in the parking lot tell the driver to stop the car several times, but he didn’t.
-The store manager declined to prosecute, so no one was arrested for shoplifting.
-On June 11, Phoenix Police was made aware of video taken by residents at the apartment complex showing extremely offensive and unprofessional language and actions by officers during the arrests. That same day, Police Chief Jeri Williams requested the officers be removed from the street and assigned to desk duty while an investigation takes place.
-On June 14, the Police Department provided to the media the police report of the original call to the local business on May 27, 2019. On the same day, Chief Williams shared a videotaped message with the community expressing how disturbing the video was, her expectations of employees, the need to give due diligence for the investigation and her support of the men and women of the department who faithfully protect and serve the community.
Notice of Claim:
This is a Notice Of Claim pursuant to A.R.S. section 12-821.01. Service of process is on you pursuant to Rule 4.1(h)(3) of the Arizona Rules of Civil Procedure. The claim is on behalf of Dravon Ames and Iesha Harper and their children London Drake, age 1, and Island Drake, age 4, and against a Police Officer whose name is believed to be Meyer, Phoenix Police Department, and the City Of Phoenix.
On or about May 29, at approximately noon, the following people were shopping at the Family Dollar store at 36 Street and McDowell Road in Phoenix: Dravon Ames and Iesha Harper, parents of London Drake, age 1, and Island Drake, age 4.
It was not until the parents got back into their car that they realized that Island had taken a doll from the store. They were not aware of that earlier. They drove to 32nd St. and Roosevelt, the building on the northeast corner, which is the residence of their babysitter. A police car pulled in behind them. There had been no sirens or lights prior to that indicating that they should stop their car. A police officer, who we believe is named Meyer, came to the front driver side of the car with a gun pulled, pulled open the door, and stated to the father: “I’m going to put a cap in your ass”. Later he stated “I’m gonna shoot you in your fucking face.” Both statements were in front of the children in the back of the car.
This officer was from the central city precinct, and the rules are that they should have body cameras, but they did not. They filed no incident report.
The police officer then went to the back door on the driver side but could not open it because it was malfunctioning. He banged on the rear window. The mother and the two children were in the backseat on the driver side. The police officer said, “open the fucking door”. The mother said, “the door won’t open.” The police officer said, “put your fucking hands up”. The mother said, “my hands are up”, which they were at the time.
A second officer came with a gun to the front seat on the driver side and pointed it at the father.
The first officer pulled the father out of the car. The father did not resist in any way then or at any time. The officer put the father on the ground and pushed the father’s head onto the hot pavement. The father tried to protest that he was complying and not resisting.
The officer stated, falsely, that he was resisting. The officer stated, “you have to do what I fucking tell you.” The officer handcuffed the father on the ground. There was no resistance. The handcuffs were too tight.
The first officer then yanked up the father by his hands, threw his head against the door of the car which closed the door, and then threw him up against the back of the car. He told the father to spread his legs, which the father did. 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.
More officers arrived, put the father in a police car, and kept them there for an hour. They did not loosen the handcuffs until after 1/2 hour in the car. They asked him “did you steal the fucking car?” He responded that he owned the car, which was a true statement.
The first officer issued a ticket but put another officer’s name on the ticket.
The car was impounded with no justification. The father now was unable to get to work. He had been gainfully employed at a warehouse. He is limping, cannot stand straight or carry weight. All of this is reducing his earning capacity.
The first officer then pointed the gun again at the mother and the children. The second officer walked around the car and continued to point a gun at the mother and the children. The mother was pregnant, which was obvious from her appearance. The mother and children exited from the rear driver side. The first officer grabbed the mother and the baby around both of their necks and tried to take the baby out of the mother’s hand. He told her to put the baby on the ground, which she was unwilling to do because the baby could not walk, and the ground consisted of hot pavement. The first officer pulled the baby by the arm to get her away from the mother, which injured the arm, in a condition known as “dead arm”. Island has been having nightmares and wetting her bed, which she has not done before this incident.
The mother gave the child to a lady bystander. The officers then handcuffed her, which hurt her arm. The mother and father both had bruises on her arms. The officer threw her into the police car face first. She was kept in the car for 15 minutes. The first officer, Myers, came back and yelled at her. He kept saying “I could have shot you in front of your fucking kids.”
On information and belief, Family Dollar store made no complaint, and the police proceeded on the basis of what they were told by some anonymous alleged witness. Also on information and belief, the city has indicated that the police officers were acting improperly.
The police officers committed battery, unlawful imprisonment, false arrest, infliction of emotional distress, and violation of civil rights under the fifth and 14th amendments of the United States Constitution, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §1983. On all the claims other than the violation of civil rights, the City of Phoenix and the Phoenix Police Department are liable under a theory of respondeat superior. On the civil rights action, the city is liable because of inadequate policies, training, supervision, and based on ratification.
This case can settle for $2.5 million for each of the four claimants, or a total of $10 million. It can be settled individually with one or more of the claimants, or with the entire group, at the dollar figure stated above.
My statement on the May 27th Phoenix Police incident: pic.twitter.com/1mYHQQbhWv
— Mayor Kate Gallego (@MayorGallego) June 16, 2019
Like many of you, watching the latest video of Phoenix police officers conduct during a traffic stop is upsetting and unacceptable. pic.twitter.com/n0HQgG7sXz
— Councilmember Carlos Garcia – District 8 (@PhxDistrict8) June 15, 2019
Despite all the negative press they’ve received lately, our Phoenix police are incredible men and women who are dedicated to serving their community. Thank you to Lieutenant Hanania for being a fantastic example of that! pic.twitter.com/Qpe8DbKdBn
— Sal DiCiccio (@Sal_DiCiccio) June 14, 2019