Phoenix police chief and mayor apologize to Black family held at gunpoint by police in Family Dollar store video

Cell phone video shows officers from the Phoenix Police Department the Ames family May 27, 2019. (GMA)
Cell phone video shows officers from the Phoenix Police Department the Ames family May 27, 2019. (GMA)


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Phoenix Police Chief Jeri Williams offered an apology for a disturbing incident caught on video between out-of-control police officers and a young family on May 29.

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.”

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 show 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 for civil rights violations by police officers, according to the AZ Central.

“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.”

Williams said she will oversee an internal investigation into the incident.

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.

The parents’ attorney said the child and father were injured in the violent encounter.