Family seeks $10M from Phoenix over police response to stolen doll
PHOENIX – A family accusing Phoenix police of serious misconduct is seeking $10 million from the city over an incident that began with a child taking a doll from a dollar store.
A notice of claim, a precursor to a lawsuit, filed Thursday morning accuses police officers of battery, unlawful imprisonment, false arrest, infliction of emotional distress and violation of the family’s civil rights.
The monetary amount was based on $2.5 million per family member, parents Dravon Ames and Iesha Harper, who is pregnant, a 4-year-old and a 1-year-old.
On Tuesday, Phoenix police said on Facebook they were investigating the May 29 incident after receiving cellphone video taken in an apartment parking lot. The post included the video (warning: explicit language).
Phoenix Police Sgt. Tommy Thompson said in an email Wednesday there is additional video and it has been forwarded to the department’s Professional Standards Bureau as part of the investigation.
He also said the department couldn’t comment on pending litigation.
Ames and Harper, who are being represented by former Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne, described events during a press conference Wednesday that were also laid out in the notice of claim (warning: explicit language).
The family also released a second bystander video from a different angle and held another press conference for Thursday afternoon.
Ames and Harper say they didn’t realize the 4-year-old had taken a doll from the Family Dollar store at 36th Street and McDowell Road until they were in their car.
“We’re talking about a little doll that’s worth maybe $5 and the horrors that came from the overreaction to that,” Horne said Thursday.
The claim says the store didn’t report the theft and the police response was based on what they were told by an anonymous witness.
After the family drove to their babysitter’s apartment complex at 32nd and Roosevelt streets, a police car followed them into the lot.
The claim says officers with guns pulled made threats and used expletives. The videos backs up the descriptions in the claim.
It also says police were unnecessarily physical with the couple even though they were not resisting.
Ames’ car was impounded, making him unable to get to work and reducing his earning capacity, the claim says.
Horne told KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Bruce St. James and Pamela Hughes Show on Friday that the incident ended when a lieutenant arrived on the scene and told officers to release the couple after they’d been put into police cars.
He also said the department has declined to turn over an incident report.