A family from Phoenix, Arizona, is speaking out against the Phoenix Police Department after they were held at gunpoint, screamed at with profanity, and assaulted when their four-year-old unknowingly took a Barbie from the Family Dollar store on May 27th. Now pursuing a $10 million dollar lawsuit against the city, the family is traumatized and angry.
As shown in the video, a police officer approached the family's vehicle without announcing who he was and held the terrified family at gunpoint. Dravon Ames, the father of the children, spoke to the media saying that he had no idea who the man was or why he was pointing his gun at them because not once did he declare he was an officer. Once the officer removed Ames from the vehicle, he was handcuffed by the same officer.
Meanwhile, another officer had the mother, 5-months-pregnant Aesha Harper, and her two daughters aged one and four-years-old at gunpoint. Once out of the vehicle, one of the officers attempted to forcibly remove the 1-year-old child from her mother, pulling her arm out of place, while the four-year-old stayed close to her mother's side completely petrified. The family believes the cops' reactions were race-based.
The Phoenix police department has opened up an investigation into the abuse of force allegation but the police chief, Jeri Williams, reminds people that as upsetting as this all is, investigations take time. "I do want you to know that I expect our employees to maintain their professionalism and proper training at all times," she says in a video released by the department. What remains strange is that the chief only refers to one officer's actions when the video clearly shows at least two were involved and displayed inappropriate behaviour.
Although an apology was made by the mayor and the police chief, the family says it's not good enough given the officers who terrorized them are still employed. People reports that "the officers involved have been removed from patrol duty and placed on desk assignment while the investigation unfolds." With the actions of these officers on camera, many people are enraged that these officers still have their badges after their tasteless actions.
We can't even begin to describe the anxiety and terror that that family must have felt in that moment. An increase in improper behaviour by police (speculatively based on race) has been shown in various situations across the U.S., but what makes this case even more horrible is that in addition to Ames and Harper, two little children and an unborn child were put at risk. In a happy twist of events, Jay-Z (and company), upon seeing the video, are now said to be paying the family's legal fees.