One officer has been fired and a second given a written reprimand by the Phoenix Police Department Tuesday after a viral Facebook video showed the pair using excessive force on a family at a Dollar Store in May while responding to a shoplifting incident.
Christopher Meyer and another officer, who has not been identified, responded to the scene on May 27 when store employees reported that a vehicle leaving the parking lot contained stolen items.
Meyer allegedly approached Dravon Ames and Iesha Harper — who was five months pregnant at the time — and their two small children, threw Ames against his vehicle, kicked his legs out from beneath him, causing him to collapse, and punched him for no reason, according to a $10 million lawsuit filed against the city in June. The claim said one of the officers, with his gun drawn, profanely told Ames in front of his children that he was going to shoot him in the face if he didn’t comply.
Harper also said an officer injured their 1-year-old daughter by pulling on one of her arms after the mother refused a command to put the child down. The mother said the girl couldn’t walk and the pavement was hot.
Police said Harper, the mother of the two children, remained in the vehicle and later explained that she believed one of her daughters had unbeknownst to them stolen a doll from the store because they didn’t have money to buy it for her.
Both parents were handcuffed and detained inside police vehicles, but they were eventually released and no one was charged with shoplifting because the property was returned and store employees didn’t want the case prosecuted, police said.
WARNING: EXPLICIT LANGUAGE USED
Phoenix Police Chief Jeri Williams said Meyer, the fired officer, caused adverse effects on both the Phoenix Police Department and the community because of his behavior.
“Our officers’ behavior was unacceptable. I expect them to be respectful, professional and compassionate in every situation and every encounter,” Williams said at a press conference.
A mediation conference in the civil case is scheduled for Dec. 18.
“I think I might be able to get a good night’s rest, for once, knowing that he’s fired and nothing more happens to anyone else from the hand of him,” Ames said Tuesday.
“The firing of officer Meyer was expected all along and should not be considered a brave step by city leaders,” the Rev. Jarrett Maupin, who represents the Ames-Harper family, said in a statement. “The violence repeated against the Ames-Harper family was always beneath the dignity and honor of law enforcement officers. Today, Christopher Meyer, violator of civil rights, has been removed from their ranks. Our city is a little safer and a bigoted bully is not unemployed.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.