A couple have filed a $10million (£8million) lawsuit against the city of Phoenix and accused police officers of threatening to shoot a pregnant mother in front of her two children after a video of the incident went viral online.
The legal claim was filed by parents Dravon Ames and Iesha Harper who accused a police officer of injuring their one-year-old daughter by pulling on her arm after the mother refused to put her down, because one of the children had shoplifted a doll from a store.
The mother didn’t want to put the girl down as the pavement was hot, resulting in threats made by the police officer as well as the use of aggressive and profane language.
The incident occured on 29 May and clips have since been circulated online showing police shouting at the parents in front of their children and forcefully arresting the father.
Police maintain that they “feared for their safety” despite a bystander video showing that there was no danger.
In the rough exchange, one police officer repeatedly shouting: "Get your f**king hands up."
“It doesn’t open,” the woman, identified as Ames’ fiancée Harper, responds, but he keeps shouting at her.
“You’re gonna f**king get shot,” the officer shouts.
“I have two kids,” Harper cries.
“I don’t give a s**t, put your hands up,” says the officer.
“I can’t put my hands up I have a f**king baby in my hand, I can’t, I’m pregnant,” Harper responds.
“When I tell you to do something, you f**king do it,” the arresting officer tells Ames. “You’re not complying with me.”
“I am,” Ames says. “I’m complying with everything you’re saying.”
“Shut your mouth,” says one officer.
The claim also alleges that Ames was injured due to excessive force exerted by the police who wrongly claimed he wasn’t complying with their commands after he stepped out of his car.
An officer is also accused of kicking Ames and punching him.
"No threat, no resistance," said Tom Horne, an attorney representing the family. "It was completely unjustified."
Neither Ames nor Harper were arrested or ticketed, though they were detained by the police, the Phoenix New Times reported.
The notice of claim alleged that the police officers “committed battery, unlawful imprisonment, false arrest, infliction of emotional distress, and violation of civil rights under the fifth and 14th amendments of the United States Constitution”.
On 14 June, police chief Jeri Williams said on Facebook that she began an internal investigation into the incident once she became aware of the video.
“This incident is not representative of the majority of Phoenix police officers who serve this city,” Williams said.
Gallego said she was “deeply sorry for what this family went through”, and would quicken the deployment of body-cameras in the police force.
This is not who we are, and I refuse to allow this type of behaviour to go unchallenged.