Phoenix Police Pull Guns on Black Family After Toddler Accidentally Stole a Doll

Last month, 22-year-old Dravon Ames, and his pregnant fiancee, 24-year-old Iesha Harper, had just returned to their apartment complex in Phoenix, Arizona, after shopping at a Family Dollar with their two daughters, ages one and four. Before they could even exit their vehicle, a police officer wielding a firearm approached the driver’s side door, shouting for Ames to “get out the f*cking car” and threatening to shoot.

Officers followed the family home after an employee at the Family Dollar called police to say that one of the young daughters had taken a doll without paying for it. Several bystander videos show at least 10 police officers surrounding the family vehicle, swearing and threatening the parents with handguns while still in the car.

At one point, Ames was thrown against a police car and kicked in the leg. Meanwhile, Harper was threatened with a handgun while holding her toddler. After handing her daughter to an officer, she and Ames were handcuffed and placed inside a police car.

Some readers may find the following video of the encounter disturbing, as it contains threats of violence and strong language.

After the above video — as well as others filmed by witnesses — circulated widely, Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego issued a public apology to the family, admitting that the officers’ behavior was “completely inappropriate and clearly unprofessional” and vowing to take action. Phoenix Police Chief Jeri Williams says an internal probe will be carried out.

The family is now filing a lawsuit against the Phoenix Police Department for $10 million, stating that their civil rights were violated. The suit explains that Ames has been limping since being kicked and that his one-year-old is experiencing nightmares and wetting the bed as a result of the incident. The child was also injured when an officer pulled her arm, an injury known as “dead arm.”

Ultimately, neither Ames nor Harper faced any charges after the doll was returned to the Family Dollar. However, Ames’ vehicle was impounded when it was discovered he had been driving on a suspended license. Harper claims that after being detained, an officer told her that he “could have shot you in front of your f*cking kids.”

It should not need explaining why this confrontation is so disturbing. In what world does a toddler innocently taking a doll from a store require a response from at least 10 officers threatening her parents with death and physical assault? It is a sad state of affairs when stories like this one are not uncommon in the United States — and especially when it can be said that this black family might have even been lucky that police did not discharge their weapons.

Mayor Gallego explained that this incident demonstrates the need to accelerate the plan to equip Phoenix law enforcement officers with body-worn cameras. While doing so will almost certainly serve to curb officers’ use of excessive force, the underlying issue comes from a clear, deep-seated problem. As I recently wrote, police data shows how officers are more inclined to escalate force when black citizens are involved when compared to white citizens.

Take Action!

Phoenix Mayor Gallego’s apology and commitment to getting body-worn cameras on officers is a solid start, as is the police chief’s promise to carry out an internal investigation. However, promises are not enough.

It is exceptionally clear that, in this case, the officers who confronted Ames and Harper not only posses a mentality that allows them to abuse black Americans, but also to threaten pregnant women holding a toddler at gunpoint. Such individuals have absolutely no place being in a profession where they are sworn to “protect and serve.” Add your name to this Care2 petition and call on those officers involved to be fired from the force and charged with criminal misconduct immediately!

Concerned about an issue? Want to raise awareness about an injustice? Join your fellow Care2 users by learning how to make your own petition and make your voice heard today!

 

Photo Credit: Meg O'Connor via YouTube

99 comments

Richard B
Richard B4 days ago

Madness. Signed.

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Colin C
Colin Clauscen4 days ago

Wonder where they find these people they make Police Officers and what about any psychological test they might have to pass.

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BobbyKat L
BobbyKat L4 days ago

So terrible!

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Toni W
Toni W5 days ago

TYFS

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Toni W
Toni W5 days ago

TYFS

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Jeanne M
Jeanne M5 days ago

Signed.

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Georgina Elizab M

tyfs

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Dr. Jan Hill
Dr. Jan Hill11 days ago

tyfs

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Toni W
Toni W11 days ago

TYFS

SEND
Toni W
Toni W11 days ago

TYFS

SEND