A Phoenix family is filing a ten million dollar lawsuit against the Phoenix Police Department, as announced by the family’s lawyer in a press conference on Monday.
On May 27, 2019, Phoenix police surrounded the family’s car outside a Family Dollar, with guns drawn, after the family’s four-year-old child allegedly wandered out of the store holding a doll that had not been paid for. The police say they were responding to an anonymous tip that shoplifting had occurred. Police also stated that the father, Dravon Ames, stole a pair of underwear and — upon police arrival — was found driving with a suspended license.
After weeks of by-stander-filmed cellphone footage of the incident sparking outrage on social media, the family is finally speaking out.
During Monday’s press conference, the children’s mother, Lesha Harper, told CBS, “I thought something bad was going to happen to me and my children at that moment. I thought I was going to be shot like [the officer] told me….”
When asked how he felt during the terrifying ordeal, Ames replied, “I thought he was going to shoot us. I’m just trying to protect my family, and being calm with someone who’s going to shoot me is the best way out of that situation, so we can survive it.”
It was during Monday’s press conference that the family’s attorney, Tom Horne, announced the lawsuit publicly. The lawsuit comes after over two weeks of no action from the Phoenix Police Department regarding the incident. The family filed a notice of claim — the first step in filing a lawsuit — on June 12, 2019, before announcing the impending lawsuit at the press conference.
On June 14, 2019, the Phoenix Police issued an apology for the family’s experience, via a video from the Chief of Police on the Department Facebook page. The following day, June 15th, the Mayor of Phoenix, Kate Gallego, issued a statement of apology to the family on her Twitter account.
At Monday’s press conference, the family said they do not accept these apologies, and wish for all officers involved to be fired. The Phoenix Police suggest there has been a rush to judgment, but have placed all involved officers on desk duty pending the investigation. The Phoenix Police Chief and Mayor Gallego are expected to host a town hall at a local Phoenix church to discuss the incident with community members.