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Viral shoplifting video case wasn’t Phoenix man’s first run-in with police

Rev. Jarrett Maupin, left, Dravon Ames and Iesha Harper during a press conference on Monday, June 17, 2019. (KTAR News Photo/Ali Vetnar)

PHOENIX – The Phoenix man whose shoplifting case became national news over viral videos of a police confrontation faces charges for allegedly assaulting Tempe officers last year, but his adviser is claiming brutality in that case, too.

Dravon Ames was arrested Oct. 31, the day after his 22nd birthday, after getting into a fight with two officers responding to a vehicle collision at Rural Road and University Drive in Tempe, according to court documents.

Rev. Jarrett Maupin, a civil rights activist who has been advocating for Ames, Iesha Harper and her two young children in the Phoenix case, told KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Mac & Gaydos on Tuesday that he has video of the Tempe officers beating Ames.

Officers said they attempted to detain Ames because he was acting erratically and wouldn’t respond to questions, according to the probable cause statement.

Ames allegedly reached for an officer’s gun during the struggle that ensued. One officer struck Ames in the face three to five times, and the other subdued him with a stun gun.

One of the officers was treated for an injured thumb after the incident, although it wasn’t broken.

Last month, a grand jury indicted Ames on two charges of aggravated assault, one a class 4 felony and one a class 5 felony.

Maupin said Ames had run out of gas and was trying to move his car, which differs from the police account.

“I can acknowledge that I have videotape from his encounter with the Tempe Police Department that shows two guys coming up to a young man whose car ran out of gas on his birthday, and he was pushing his car out of the street,” Maupin said.

The officers said Ames was standing by his car, which had been in a collision. They said he wouldn’t move out of the roadway, where it wasn’t safe, so they moved to detain him.

Officers also said they smelled marijuana in the vehicle and Ames admitted to having smoked it.

“And I have video that shows these two guys who are over 6 feet and over 180 pounds each beating the snot out of somebody and then one of them had the audacity to file a complaint for being assaulted because their thumb was bent back. And I’ve got pictures of the kid that looks like the whole Klan had him over for a beating party.”

Maupin said he can’t speak to the evidence Tempe police has about the incident.

“I can only tell you what we’ve seen. I haven’t seen what Tempe has put out. I can only tell you [about] the video we have seen. The photographs we have seen. The medical reports we have seen,” he said.

“So no I’m not getting ready to indict someone’s character because you think you know something.”

Last week, the family’s representatives released two bystander videos of the police confrontation in a parking lot at an apartment complex at 32nd and Roosevelt streets.

Police followed Ames’ vehicle, in which Harper, a 4-year-old and a 1-year-old were passengers, in response to a shoplifting report at a nearby Family Dollar store.

The family has been saying the incident involved a doll the 4-year-old took from the store.

The videos, which propelled the case into national headlines, show an officer roughly handling Ames and at one point kicking his leg after he was handcuffed.

They also show an officer with his gun pulled threatening Harper, who is pregnant, and using expletives while she is holding the baby.

The family filed a claim of notice last week, which is a precursor to a lawsuit, seeking $10 million.

Ames and Harper accused the officers of battery, unlawful imprisonment, false arrest, infliction of emotional distress and violation of the civil rights in the claim (warning: explicit language).

Before the claim was filed, the Phoenix Police Department said it launched an internal investigation of the officers’ response after seeing the videos.

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