Phoenix Cop Who Threatened Black Family to be Fired
|thenorthstar||Oct 25, 2019|
A Phoenix police officer who threatened to shoot a Black family during a shoplifting incident in May will be fired, the chief of police confirmed. The news of Officer Christopher Meyer’s termination comes after the couple filed a $10 million lawsuit against the city.
Chief Jeri Williams confirmed that Meyer was notified of his termination on October 22, CBS News reported. Meyer was one of several officers caught on video pointing a gun and cursing at a Black couple while responding to a reported shoplifting incident.
Iesha Harper, who was pregnant at the time, and her fiancé Dravon Ames were traveling on May 27 with their two children, 1-year-old London Drake and 4-year-old Island Drake, when they were pulled over by a police car. The couple said their 4-year-old daughter walked out of a Family Dollar store carrying a doll, but said they did not realize it until they were in the car.
According to a police report cited by BuzzFeed News, officers were responding to a different shoplifting incident at the Family Dollar, when they witnessed a woman with a “food foil.” When the woman saw the officers, she allegedly dropped the item “before leaving the store without paying for the item” and ran into a red Hyundai Santa Fe.
As the vehicle drove out of the parking lot, the woman, identified as Harper’s aunt, jumped out and was arrested by officers. Police later followed the vehicle, which was being driven by Ames, and approached the couple as another unit arrived.
In a complaint by Ames, his attorney Tom Horne claimed that officers pulled up behind the family without lights or a siren, and approached the family vehicle with their weapons drawn. Officers yelled profanity-laced commands at the family.
One officer reportedly pulled the 22-year-old Ames from the car while demanding he put his hands in the air. The officer then yelled, “I’m going to put a cap in your a—.”
The encounter was recorded by residents at the apartment complex where Harper and Ames were pulled over. Ames can be seen being handcuffed, yanked off the pavement, and then kicked by the officer.
Officers claimed that Ames was not complying with their commands. At one point, an officer is heard yelling, “You’re going to f— get shot.”
Police used a similar approach with a pregnant Harper, who was holding her youngest child in her arms. An officer told her to “get your f—king hands up” while another ran towards her with their gun drawn, while screaming, “Get out of the f— car!” Harper told officers that she was trying to get out of the car but was holding her baby and was pregnant.
According to the complaint, Harper and her two children exited the car and an officer grabbed her and the 1-year-old around their necks. “He told her to put the baby on the ground, which she was unwilling to do because the baby could not walk, and the ground consisted of hot pavement,” Horne said in the complaint. “The first officer pulled the baby by the arm to get her away from the mother, which injured her arm.”
After video of the incident went viral, Harper said it was a terrifying experience for her family. “They had never been through something like that, especially with guns pointed at them,” she told reporters. “My daughter is terrified, to this day, of the police.”
A disciplinary review board investigated the incident and recommended that Officer Meyer receive a six-week suspension, CBS News reported.
“In this case, a 240-hour suspension is just not sufficient to reverse the adverse effects of his actions on our department and our community,” Williams told reporters on October 22. “Unlike other professions, we don’t have a luxury of a do-over.”
Harper and Ames said at separate news conferences that they were pleased with Meyer’s firing. “I think I might be able to get a good night’s rest for once knowing that he’s fired, and it won’t happen to no one else,” Ames told reporters. “I think it’s a step in the right direction for change.”
The couple said that Meyer’s dismissal should have occurred sooner, adding that all the officers involved should be terminated. A second officer involved in the incident is set to be reprimanded for his use of foul language. However, Williams said that the officer did attempt to calm the situation.
About the Author
Nicole Rojas is a breaking news writer for The North Star. She has published in various publications, including Newsweek, GlobalPostJane’s Defence Weekly, and the Long Island Post. Nicole graduated from Boston University in 2012 with a degree in print journalism. She is an avid world traveler who recently explored Asia and Australia.