After a video showing the arrest of Valley family members accused of shoplifting emerged over the weekend, activists and pundits were quick to condemn the police officers involved. However new videos have been released showing the family members caught in the act of shoplifting at the Dollar Store.
Phoenix Councilman Sal DiCiccio shared the new videos on Facebook along with timeline of events. “While the media has created a narrative that this was a “child shoplifting” stop, video from the store appears to show both adults stealing,” posted DiCiccio. “Further, the viral video being used to paint a negative picture of the Phoenix Police Department doesn’t tell the whole story – it’s like reading the last page of a book and assuming you know everything that happened in the previous chapters.”
Here’s what happened, and I challenge anyone – media, politicians, and the public – to dispute this timeline of events:
1. A call came in regarding a theft from a store, officers responded.
2. Upon arrival, the responding officer was alerted to another theft from the same store.
3. During this second theft, store video confirms additional items were taken by multiple adult suspects, including both the adults present during the stop.
4. Suspects were identified and police approached the individuals while in their vehicle at the store parking lot.
5. Officers gave multiple commands to the driver of the suspect’s vehicle to exit the vehicle.
6. Despite lawful orders, the vehicle took off and stopped a short distance away.
7. At this time, a single female passenger exited the vehicle and surrendered to police.
8. Driver proceeded to continue to ignore lawful police orders and took off once again, coming to a stop approximately one mile away.
9. The female passenger who originally exited the vehicle confirmed that she heard the orders, and asked the driver to stop, then asked to be let out of the vehicle.
10. Vehicle was identified and followed by a second police unit, which was waiting for assistance from additional units before activating their emergency lights and initiating the stop.
11. Vehicle turned into an apartment complex and stopped, causing the tailing police unit to initiate contact, and the first officer called the suspects out of the vehicle while the second officer – per policy – remained in a defensive location with his service weapon in the ready position, but not aimed.
12. Once all the passengers had exited the vehicle and officers could see that they were not armed, the second officer returned his service weapon to his holster – again, per policy.
13. The female passenger admitted to police upon being detained that she could hear the officer in the parking lot ordering them to exit the vehicle, and that the driver ignored those orders and fled.
14. Both the driver and female passenger admitted to having shoplifted items from the store.
15. Driver and passenger additionally admitted to tossing stolen items out of the car as they drove away.
While the video that shows the conclusion of the incident looks bad, the only element of this arrest which appears to be out of policy is the use of foul language during the incident, which is unfortunate, but hardly unusual in a charged situation. Unfortunately, the narrative being painted is that this was a stop involving a four-year old child rather than an apparent crime committed by adults who put their children in harms-way by bringing them to a criminal activity.
The actions of the officers appear to be entirely in line with policy. There was no use of excessive force. The stop was lawful. Police were responding to a crime, and engaged in a heightened response due to the actions of the driver in failing to comply with lawful demands and driving away from the original scene.
This constant barrage of attacking our officers in the end puts all our law-abiding citizens at risk, as well as the officers charged with protecting us. Some have claimed that because this was “only” a shoplifting incident, that police should have approached the traffic stop less aggressively. That narrative completely ignores the fact that the driver was ordered to stop by police, chose to ignore those orders, and fled the scene. Officers who conducted the stop weren’t merely responding to a shoplifting case: they were responding to a shoplifting case where the suspect had also already demonstrated that they were willing to ignore the lawful orders of officers on the scene. Under that circumstance, it would be the height of irresponsibility – and incredibly dangerous – for officers to respond without taking extra defensive measures. They could not treat this incident as a minor traffic stop without putting both their lives and potentially the lives of other members of the public at risk.
I hesitated to put out any statement on this issue until more information became available because – without question – someone viewing the video without any additional facts would and should be upset by what they saw. However, in light of the full facts of the case, I challenge anyone to contradict the timeline I have put out, and challenge anyone to show me exactly where the police have acted out of policy, with the exception of the use of foul language. Barring that, I will not be making any further statements on this issue publicly, as it appears likely the suspects will soon be filing a substantial claim against the City of Phoenix.
DiCiccio’s Chief of Staff Sam Stone, in an appearance on KFYI’s James T. Harris show, questioned the coverage of the incident. “We are gravely upset with the way the narrative of this story has gone out because we’ve got Reverend Maupin comparing these people, who were pulled over to Emmett Till. I’m sorry that’s just an insult to the memory of Emmett Till,” said Stone. “As far as we can tell the only thing that was out of policy was the use of foul language.”
— James T Harris (@JamesTHarris) June 18, 2019
Last month, Ames was charged with two felony counts for assaulting two police officers, according to court documents. One officer alleged that Ames tried to grab his gun. Ames was tased twice by police and arrested. He admitted to smoking marijuana prior to the incident. Ames was booked, cited and released for DUI.
“My hands are up! My hands are up!” 22yo Dravon Ames says as a Phoenix police officer yells to “get your fucking hands up.” The same officer later says “You’re gonna fucking get shot!”
Ames says the officers stopped him after his child walked out of a Dollar Store with a doll. pic.twitter.com/Nlkd7IXsyc
— Meg O’Connor (@megoconnor13) June 12, 2019