A Phoenix couple has filed a $10 million lawsuit against the city after a video showed police officers arresting and drawing a gun on them after their 4-year-old daughter allegedly stole a doll.
Dravon Ames and his fiancee, Iesha Harper, had just left a dollar store on May 29 with their daughters, ages 1 and 4, and where in their car when they realized that the older girl had taken a doll from the store, according to a notice of claim filed Wednesday with the city.
The couple drove the girls to their babysitter at an apartment complex nearby, where they were stopped and confronted by police in the parking lot.
Phoenix police, who said they are conducting an internal probe of the incident, on Tuesday released a video, shot by a bystander, showing an officer appearing to push a handcuffed man — believed to be Ames — against the side of a car and kicking his legs.
Other officers could be seen handcuffing Harper after an unidentified woman came to take care of her two small children.
"When I tell you to do something, you f------ do it!" an officer could be heard screaming at the handcuffed Ames.
The cuffed man appeared to be complying as he was picked off the ground and thrown against a police vehicle.
The officer repeated: "When tell you to do something, you f------ do it!"
Footage from another, ground-level angle, showed an officer with a drawn gun repeatedly yelling: “Get your f------ hands up!”
Harper said at a news conference this week that she was trying to tell the officers that she was in a backseat with her kids and couldn't immediately get out of the car.
“We're yelling out, ‘The door doesn’t open that side. It doesn't open.’ Obviously I don’t have a gun with two kids in my hands," Harper said.
One of the officers told Harper, "I could have shot you in front of your f------ kids," according to the claim filed by the family's lawyer, Thomas Horne, a former attorney general for the state.
The Phoenix Police Department confirmed that officers had taken "two individuals into custody while investigating a shoplifting incident."
"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," a police statement said.
Horne said the officers acted against the family based on an anonymous tip, and not from information from any employee at the dollar store.
The claim alleges that the officers committed battery, unlawful imprisonment, false arrest and other civil rights violations.
The family is asking for $2.5 million for each parent and each child, according to the notice of claim.