Black Phoenix Family Who Had Guns Drawn On Them Over $1 Doll To Receive Settlement
The family had originally filed a $10 million lawsuit against the city claiming civil rights violations.
October 23, 2019 at 6:24 pm
Update (August 27, 2020): Officials in Phoenix have agreed to pay a settlement to Iesha Harper and her fiancé Dravon Ames after police pulled their guns on the Black family over a doll their 4-year-old daughter had taken.
As Blavity previously reported in May 2019, the couple’s child took a doll off the shelves at a Family Dollar without them knowing. As they drove to a babysitter with their 1-year-old also in the car, police pulled them over and violently detained the family after pulling guns on them.
They handcuffed and abused Ames before aggressively pointing their guns at Harper who was five-months pregnant at the time.
The incident was caught on video by a resident at a nearby apartment complex.
“I could have shot you in front of your f**king kids,” one of the officers told Harper.
The family sued the city for $10 million and officer Chris Meyer was fired in October.
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 Wednesday, the Phoenix City Council decided in a 6-2 vote to pay an undisclosed settlement to the couple for what they went through.
“I know the money won’t take away the trauma or the harm that’s been caused, but I hope the children will have a better life for it,” Councilman Carlos Garcia said to the Associated Press.
The Phoenix Police Department, like many across the country, has a fraught history with the local population of Black and Native American people. According to the Associated Press, the department has one of the country’s highest shooting rates.
Video of the incident and the national reaction to it led to the police department requiring all officers to file a report any time they pulled their gun on someone.
Both Ames and Harper said police never used their sirens and did little to identify themselves before trying to arrest the couple.
“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.
In June 2019, Jay-Z and his team at Roc Nation agreed to help the couple with legal representation.
Original (October 23, 2019): A Phoenix police officer was fired Tuesday after he pointed a gun and arrested a Black family after their daughter took a doll from a dollar store in May.
Officer Chris Meyer has been on administrative leave, but Police Chief Jeri Williams announced his termination, reports NBC. An investigation of the incident was done by the police department’s Disciplinary Review Board. They recommended a 6-week unpaid suspension for Meyer, but Williams ultimately decided on discharge.
"In this case, a 240-hour suspension is just not sufficient to reverse the adverse effects of his actions on our department," Williams said. "Unlike other professions, we don't have a luxury of a do-over."
The incident became a high-profile case when a bystander posted a video of the arrest and it gained widespread attention in June.
Dravon Ames and his fiancée, Iesha Harper left a Family Dollar store without realizing their 4-year-old daughter had taken a doll. Their 1-year-old daughter was also in the car. The family drove to a babysitter at a nearby apartment complex where they were stopped by police in the parking lot. The video shows an officer pulling a gun on the family. An officer also pushes a handcuffed man, Ames, against a car and kicks his legs.
"When I tell you to do something, you f**king do it!" the officer could be heard screaming. Harper said she was in the backseat of the car with her children at the time.
They demanded Harper get out of the car, but she said she tried to explain to them the car door wouldn’t open.
“We're yelling out, ‘The door doesn’t open that side. It doesn't open.’ Obviously I don’t have a gun with two kids in my hands," Harper said at a news conference in June.
The couple filed a $10 million lawsuit against the city, according to CBS News. They are claiming the officers committed battery, unlawful imprisonment and false arrest among other civil rights violations.
According to the claim, filed by the family's lawyer Thomas Horne, one of the officers told Harper “I could have shot you in front of your f**king kids.”
In a separate press conference Tuesday, the family said Meyer's termination should have happened sooner, but they are pleased with the news.
"It gives us hope in the right direction that change will come and this stuff will stop happening and people will know that there are consequences, even for officers," said Ames.
They do believe all the officers involved with the incident should have been fired. Another officer involved was given a written reprimand. He used inappropriate language during the arrest but was trying to deescalate the situation.
The store is not pressing charges against the family as the items taken were returned.