'Beyond Upsetting': Mayor Apologises After Armed Police Threaten Family Over Stolen Doll
The mayor of Phoenix has apologised after sickening footage emerged of police threatening to shoot a young couple after their daughter, 4, allegedly stole a Barbie.
Police officers can be been seen levelling their guns, yelling obscenities and threatening to shoot Dravon Ames and his fiance Iesha Harper after the family pulled up at an apartment complex on May 29.
An officer approaches the front driver's side door, gun drawn, yelling, "I'm going to put a cap in your ass," and "I'm going to shoot you in your f***ing face," according to a notice of claim filed against the city.
Ames was then handcuffed, thrown against the car and ordered to spread his legs before being kicked in the leg and punched in the back by a second officer, the claim stated.
The officers then reportedly turned their weapons on Harper, 24, and her two children, who had climbed out of the vehicle.
"The first officer grabbed the mother and the baby around both of their necks, and tried to take the baby out of the mother's hand," the claim states according to Phoenix New Times. "The first officer pulled the baby by the arm to get her away from the mother, which injured the arm, in a condition known as 'dead arm."
The mother then handed the children to a bystander before she was allegedly flung face first into a police car and handcuffed.
"I really thought he was gonna shoot me in front of the kids," she told CNN after the incident.
A police report obtained by the news outlet said the incident escalated after the couple refused police commands but there is no body cam footage of the incident, only the videos taken by witnesses.
The parents said they had no idea about the stolen toy and the store manager declined to prosecute, so no shoplifting charges have been laid.
Despite the incident occurring last month, police were only made aware of a video taken by residents at the apartment block where the incident played out on June 11.
That same day, both officers involved were "removed from the street and assigned to desk duty while an investigation takes place," the department confirmed.
Mayor of Phoenix, Kate Gallego, issued a statement on social media over the weekend vowing to make changes.
“I, like many others, am sick over what I have seen in the video depicting Phoenix police interacting with a family and young children,” she said.
“It was completely inappropriate and clearly unprofessional. There is no situation in which this behaviour is ever close to acceptable.
“As a mother myself, seeing these children placed in such a terrifying situation is beyond upsetting.
“I am deeply sorry for what this family went through, and I apologise to the community.
"This is not who we are, and I refuse to allow this type of behaviour to go unchallenged.”
A community meeting will be held this week to talk about the incident. Among those present will be Police Chief Jeri Williams.
In a video posted to the departments Facebook page on Friday, she said she was "disturbed by the language and the actions of our officers."
"I assure you that this incident is not representative of the majority of Phoenix police officers who serve this city," Williams continued.
The family is now suing the US$10 million -- AU$14.5 -- alleging police committed civil rights violations.
The investigation and legal action are expected to take some time.