PHOENIX (WITI) -- A Phoenix couple is seeking $10 million from the city after a video showed police officers drawing a gun on them after their 4-year-old daughter allegedly stole a doll from a Family Dollar store.
Dravon Ames and fiancee Iesha Harper told CNN they didn’t notice when their daughter walked out with a Barbie from the store last month. They’ve filed a notice of claim against the city for $10 million, which serves as a precursor to a lawsuit.
Soon after they left the store, Ames said the couple pulled into an apartment complex to drop their daughter off at a babysitter. Then an officer began banging against their window, yelling and threatening to kill them.
“Our hands are up, we’re just trying not to get shot, trying to stay calm,” Ames said. “He had a gun drawn.”
Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego apologized to the family in a statement on Saturday, saying the city is speeding up the implementation of body-worn cameras across its police department.
“I, like many others, am sick over what I have seen in the video depicting Phoenix police interacting with a family and young children. It was completely inappropriate and clearly unprofessional,” Gallego wrote in a Facebook post. “There is no situation in which this behavior is ever close to acceptable. As a mother myself, seeing these children placed in such a terrifying situation is beyond upsetting.”
Officer did not identify himself, family says
Ames said there were no sirens or lights to indicate that they were being pulled over beforehand and the officer who was pointing a gun at them did not immediately identify himself as an officer.
The incident took place on May 29, the family said. Police said they were made aware of video on June 11.
In the 12-minute blurred-out video posted on the department’s Facebook page, one officer can be seen handcuffing Ames, first on the ground and then against a police car. The officer kicks Ames and can be heard yelling multiple times, “When I tell you to do something, you f--- do it.”
Another officer appears to be pulling a gun on the passenger side of the couple’s vehicle before Harper exits the car, holding a small child, with a second child by her side.
An officer is seen attempting to yank the child from her arms before a bystander offers to take her children.
Harper, who was five months pregnant at the time, said she was terrified.
“I really thought he was gonna shoot me in front of the kids,” she told CNN by phone Friday. She chose to give her two children to a “complete stranger because I didn’t trust the police to have her.”