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Phoenix's Police Chief Responds After Video Of Cop Threatening To Shoot Black Family Over Barbie Doll Goes Viral

Phoenix's Police Chief Responds After Video Of Cop Threatening To Shoot Black Family Over Barbie Doll Goes Viral
@OccupyDemocrats/Twitter; Phoenix Police Department/Facebook; @BillyCrystal/Twitter

People were shocked online as eyewitness videos of a violent encounter between a man, his pregnant fiancée and two young children and the Phoenix Police Department.

Their crime?

Apparently their 4 year-old daughter walked out of a dollar store with a doll.

Now the Phoenix Police Chief has responded to the public outrage.

On June 14, Chief Jeri Williams addressed the controversy with a Facebook video on the official Phoenix Police Department page. The incident between the family and police took place on May 27 "in the area of 3200 E. Roosevelt, Phoenix, Arizona.

Chief Williams said:

"I, like you, was disturbed by the language and the action of the officer."
"I assure you this incident is not representative of the majority of our Phoenix police officers."

On June 13, Occupy Democrats shared footage of the encounter with captions.

Footage from another angle, also filmed by witnesses was shared online as well.

In the footage you can hear the witnesses concern over the young children.

Zach Crenshaw of ABC15 posted the story on June 11 and other news outlets quickly followed.

According to Crenshaw's report, neither parent was arrested.

The two angles of the eyewitness footage each showed behavior by the police that the public decried and demanded answers for.

Police shouted at 22-year-old Dravon Ames, his pregnant 24 year-old fiancée, Aisha Harper, and their two young children. Ames had just driven to their babysitter's apartment complex after stopping at a store.

Harper was in the backseat with the children and repeatedly told police she could not open the door. Harper had her year-old baby on her lap.

One officer can be heard on the video yelling at her.

He yelled several times:

"Get out of the [profanity] car."

Then he said:

"I'm going to shoot you in your [profanity] face."

He also yelled:

"I'm gonna put a cap right in your [profanity] head."

A crying Harper said:

"Don't point it at my kids."

According to the couple and eyewitness video, Ames was pushed to the pavement by an officer as he exited the car and handcuffed. After he was stood up, he was pushed against the police vehicle and kicked in the right leg causing him to fall to one knee.

The original police report filed by the officers told a very different story than the videos.

People wanted accountability and answers.


In their official statement, the Phoenix Police Department said:

"On June 11, 2019, we were provided video of an officer taking two individuals into custody while investigating a shoplifting incident in the area of 3200 East Roosevelt Street. This occurred after the suspect vehicle was stopped a short distance from the scene of the theft."
"It involved a man and a woman with two small children. Please be advised, there is some language which might be considered offensive. The video is intentionally blurred for redaction purposes."
"The Phoenix Police Department takes all allegations of misconduct seriously and for this reason, this incident is currently being investigated by the Professional Standards Bureau."

In a statement on Saturday, Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego said:

"It was completely inappropriate and clearly unprofessional. 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."

A timeline for completing the internal investigation was not set by the Phoenix PD. The officers involved were assigned desk duty.

The couple filed a lawsuit against the police department and the city of Phoenix for $10 million. They allege the police officers

"committed battery, unlawful imprisonment, false arrest, infliction of emotional distress, and violation of civil rights."

To learn more about this complex issue, you can read Police Brutality Matters, available here. Written by Joseph Ested, a law enforcement officer and person of color.

"With the issue of police brutality at the forefront of American consciousness, it seems like just about everyone has an opinion. But few can provide the unique perspective of Joseph Ested, an African American law-enforcement officer."
"As a child growing up in a low-income urban area, Ested experienced police brutality and racist law enforcement techniques firsthand. Later, as a law enforcement professional himself, he gained an inside perspective on how the culture of police departments encourages—in both subtle and not-so-subtle ways—the culture of violence and racism infecting the institution of American policing."

Also, Black and Blue: Inside the Divide between the Police and Black America, available here. Written by CBS News Justice and Homeland Security Correspondent Jeff Pegues.

"Jeff Pegues provides unbiased facts, statistics, and perspectives from both sides of the community-police divide. Pegues has rare access to top law enforcement officials throughout the country, including former FBI Director James Comey and police chiefs in major cities. He has also interviewed police union leaders, community activists, and others at the heart of this crisis—people on both sides who are trying to push American law enforcement in a new direction."