The Phoenix City Council on Wednesday agreed to pay a settlement to a Black couple after police officers point guns at them last year when their young daughter took a doll from a store without their knowledge.
The mother, Iesha Harper, said at a news conference that she and her fiancé Dravon Ames will receive $475,000. The incident occurred on May 27, 2019, when Ames and his fiancée, Harper, took their two children to a Family Dollar store. There, their four-year-old daughter took a doll out of the store unbeknownst to them.
Employees at the store reported the incident and Phoenix police followed the family to their home. Ames said the officers didn’t use lights or sirens before walking over to their parked car carrying Harper and their two daughters, ages 4 and 1.
“Next thing you know, a police officer … comes up, open the door, banging on the window with a gun, saying he’s gonna shoot us in the face, telling us to get out of the car,” Ames said during a news conference.
Video of the incident recorded by a resident of the apartment complex shows officers pointing guns and yelling threats at Ames and his fiancée who was then pregnant, and their two daughters. The video went viral, sparking protests and “putting the Phoenix Police Department under scrutiny following a deadly year of police shootings,” AZ Central News reported.
Tom Horne, the state’s former attorney general and the lawyer for Ames and Harper filed a notice of claim in June 2019 asking for $10 million, claiming the officers had used excessive force.
The $475,000 payout now becomes one of the many settlements by the department over the last decade following “excessive-force or wrongful-death claims” totaling millions of dollars, the AZ Central News report said.
City leaders passed the settlement with a 6-2 vote.
“I just want to say I’m glad we got justice. It’s been hell dealing with my kids and everything that happened,” said Harper.
The couple’s incident also resulted in some changes in the department: The police chief fired an officer and Phoenix police required a written report whenever an officer points a gun at someone. The mayor, Kate Gallego, also created an ad-hoc committee to get public recommendations on police reform.
“I know the money won’t take away the trauma or the harm that’s been caused, but I hope the children will have a better life for it,” Councilman Carlos Garcia said.