Jay-Z helps Black family held at gunpoint by Phoenix police at Family Dollar as they sue city for $10 million
TheGrio has launched a special series called #BlackonBlue to examine the relationship between law enforcement and African-Americans. Our reporters and videographers will investigate police brutality and corruption while also exploring local and national efforts to improve policing in our communities. Join the conversation, or share your own story, using the hashtag #BlackonBlue.
Jay-Z’s Roc Nation is stepping up to offer financial support to the young family victimized by police in Phoenix May 29.
Parents Dravon Ames, 22, and his pregnant fiancee, Aisha Harper, said they were completely unaware that their 4-year-old daughter had taken a doll from the store, but that officers responded by pointing guns and yelling obscenities at them and their two young daughters. A viral video released on Friday back up their claims and shows the harrowing encounter that has many calling for the officers to be fired.
The family has responded to the incident by filing a $10 million claim against the city accusing the police of battery, unlawful imprisonment, false arrest, and infliction of emotional distress. The couple also maintain cops violated their civil rights.
The Roc Nation team reached out to the family to offer legal support, request termination of the police officers involved in the incident and “ensure the well-being of the children,” said Didier Morais, a PR spokesperson for Roc Nation told AZ Central.
A passer-by filmed the incident and posted a clip on social media. In their clip, police are heard screaming: ‘Put your f****** hands up or I’ll put a f****** cap in your head.’
Morais said Jay Z’s team is offering up high-profile attorney Alex Spiro pro bono to join the family’s legal team and that the attorney will file papers in the court against one of the officers for child neglect.
In a statement, Roc Nation Managing Director of Philanthropy Dania Diaz called the incident “absolutely sickening.”
“There is no place for that behavior in our world – let alone our justice system – and we are calling for the immediate termination of the police officers in question,” Diaz said in the statement, according to AZ Central. “We are committed to supporting the family to ensure that justice is served.”
And Roc Nation is proving once again to be a family. When the philanthropic arm of the company informed its signed artists of the disturbing incident, rapper Meek Mill took to Twitter to lambast police for how they handled this incident.
Do you hear the tone of their voices … they want to kill!!!! https://t.co/hnUiLxNRIG
— Meek Mill (@MeekMill) June 14, 2019
Phoenix Police Chief Jeri Williams reportedly apologize to the traumatized family and is spearheading the investigation into the officer’s actions.
Williams told family members that officers should not have pointed guns and yelled profanities as they responded to a Family Dollar store’s report of shoplifting, according to AZ Central.
A bystander reportedly captured the footage outside an apartment complex after the family left a Family Dollar store location back in May but the video went viral last friday.
“Every time I look a that video its extremely unsettling,” Chief Williams said in an interview that aired Sunday on ABC15. “I apologize to the family, I apologize to the community.”
“We need to communicate better and we’re going to be looking at some different things. We’re going to be looking at policy. We’re going to be looking at more training,” said Chief Williams. “Culture is a good. We are seeing situations of individuals who are tarnishing our reputation not just as Phoenix police officers but as law enforcement in general and I am certain that we are going to repair that.”
Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego, also posted an apology to the family on her Twitter page Saturday.
“I, like many others, am sick over what I have seen in the video depicting Phoenix police interacting with a family and young children. It was completely inappropriate and clearly unprofessional. There is no situation in which this behavior is ever close to acceptable. As a mother myself, seeing these children placed in such a terrifying situation is beyond upsetting,” Mayor Gallego writes in the post.
“I am deeply sorry for what this family went through, and I apologize to our community. This is not who we are, and I refuse to allow this type of behavior to go unchallenged. I have spoken directly with our Police Chief, City Manager, and our Public Safety Subcommittee Chairman.”
The officers in the video have reportedly been placed on desk duty during the investigation.