ARIZONA NEWS

Phoenix City Council approves police budget despite heavy protests

Jun 19, 2019, 7:42 PM | Updated: Jun 20, 2019, 10:51 pm

(AP Photo/Matt York)...

(AP Photo/Matt York)

(AP Photo/Matt York)

PHOENIX — Phoenix City Council on Wednesday voted to pass a $721 million police budget despite heavy protests asking for reform of a department mired in controversy.

The budget was approved during a city council meeting in a 7-2 vote. Councilmen Sal DiCiccio and Jim Waring voted against the budget.

The vote came after several hours of citizens lobbying against the department in public comment, asking for the officers involved in the May 27 incident centered around excessive force to be fired before passing the budget.

Those in attendance who were against the passing of the budget booed and left City Hall following the vote.

The council meeting was just the latest opportunity for protesters to express their displeasure with the Phoenix Police Department.

Two incidents in the last month, including the shoplifting incident involving Dravon Ames, Iesha Harper and their two children, have ignited a series of meetings aimed at reforming the department.

Rev. Jarrett Maupin, an adviser for the family in the viral video of a disturbing confrontation with Phoenix police, made a formal request Wednesday at City Hall to have two officers involved fired.

Joined by Ames and Harper and a group of their family members, Maupin submitted a citizen petition during the public comment session of a regularly scheduled City Council meeting.

Ames, 22, told councilmembers that he and his family “could have lost their lives over something senseless … over a 4-year-old taking a doll.”

He said it is “sad” the officers are still employed.

Ames added, “I guess our lives are worth less than a 99-cent doll.”

The new protest followed a Tuesday night meeting that drew hundreds of people to a downtown church to address the videos, which were taken by bystanders who watched police confront Ames and Harper, his pregnant fiancee, who was holding her 1-year-old daughter. The couple say their 4-year-old daughter took a doll from a store without their knowledge.

The store decided not to prosecute, and no charges have been filed.

The couple filed a $10 million notice of claim, a precursor to a lawsuit, against the city alleging civil rights violations.

The Phoenix Police Department has said an investigation into the officers’ actions is underway.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Phoenix City Council approves police budget despite heavy protests