A Phoenix man says apointing guns on his family last month, "saved us from death." The video released on Friday appears to show police officers in Phoenix responding to a steal report, showing firearms and shouting profane orders to Dravon Ames and his pregnant fiancé Iesha Harper, who was holding their older child. from one year.
Parents say their 4-year-old daughter stole a doll from a Family Dollar store without their knowledge. They filed a $ 10 million lawsuit against the city, alleging civil rights violations by police officers.
The video on cell phone shows police officers unsheathed, their weapons in hand, verbally threatening Ames and Harper in front of their two young children.
"I'm going to put a cap on your head!" an officer shouted. "You're going to get shot at … raise your hands in the air."
"My hands hold my babies!" Harper answered.
The video also shows an officer kicking Ames at the back of the leg while he is handcuffed.
"I was very scared for my life, for my family," said Ames, at a press conference Monday with Harper, his supporters and his lawyers. "I thought we were all going to be executed."
Mr. Harper stated that the fact that the officer is aware of the fact that the viewer who recorded the video could have had an impact on the behavior of the officer, although he said that the agent "always had the feeling that he could do what he wanted". The video sparked national outrage and led the mayor of Phoenix and the chief of police to apologize.
The head of the Phoenix Police Department, Jeri Williams, said in a video released Friday afternoon that she had opened an internal investigation as soon as she had been made aware of the video. The investigation is ongoing.
"Like you, I am disturbed by the language and actions of our officer, and I assure you this incident is not representative of the majority of the Phoenix police serving this city," Williams said.
The mayor of Phoenix, Kate Gallego, described the incident as "terrifying situation" which was "unbearable".
But Ames and Harper said the excuses sounded hollow because the officers involved were not held responsible. They called for them to be fired.
"When the leader has to talk, she always has something to say about her officers, justifying what they did," Harper said. "I did not like it, so I do not accept his apology."
Harper said that his two young children were "terrified" and "traumatized" after the incident and had trouble sleeping. She said that she always taught her eldest daughter to trust the police, but that this girl "had to find out herself that she could not rely on the police".
"We have to try to explain to them that not all police are bad, but that was his first impression," Ames said.
Harper said it "breaks her heart" every time she sees the video.
"It always hurts, it haunts me," said Harper. "It should not have happened with a doll or anything that could mean, that still does not justify their actions, period."
Earlier this year, a report commissioned by Williams had revealed that 2018 was the most violent year ever recorded by the Phoenix Police Department. There were 44 shootings involving officers – the largest number in the country and more than double the year before.
In April, CBS News correspondent Jeff Pegues asked Williams: "Some people say to themselves," Is the Phoenix police happy with the trigger? "
"So, there are people who think a lot, my agency is not afraid of the truth," said Williams. "If there is something we can learn, let's learn it, let's settle it."
Police said that Ames had also stolen a pair of underwear, was driving with a suspended license and had refused to be arrested several times, which he denied. The family keeps the police following them from the Family Dollar store until a parking lot located in the babysitter's house where the incident occurred. They say the agents never turned on their lights or indicated that they should stop. Nobody was charged with stealing from the store because the property had been returned and the store's employees did not want the case to be prosecuted, the police said.
Reverend Jarrett Maupin, a civil rights activist in Phoenix, said the police's account of the events was "full of lies" and officials were trying to criminalize the family.
Maupin said the family had not received face-to-face apologies. He called on leaders to flood a community meeting Tuesday on the incident as well as a Wednesday meeting of Phoenix City Council.