Jay Z is funding the legal costs of a family held at gunpoint by police after their four-year-old daughter allegedly took a doll from a shop.
Dravon Ames, 22, and Iesha Harper, 24, filed a notice of claim on Thursday (June 13) after police swarmed the family’s car in a car park in Phoenix, Arizona, and threatened to shoot them in front of their two young children.
The couple are preparing to sue the city of Phoenix for $10million, accusing officers of committed battery, unlawful imprisonment, false arrest, and infliction of emotional distress.
You can watch the harrowing footage below:
After footage of the incident emerged, Team ROC – the social justice department of Jay Z’s company Roc Nation – offered legal assistance to the family, Complex reports.
The team is also calling for the firing of all officers involved in the horrifying incident, which occurred on May 27.
Dania Diaz, managing director of philanthropy for Roc Nation, said:
The Phoenix Police Department’s treatment of Dravon Ames, Iesha Harper and their two young children is absolutely sickening.
There is no place for that behaviour in our world – let alone our justice system – and we are calling for the immediate termination of the police officers in question.
We are committed to supporting the family to ensure that justice is served.
At the time of the couple’s arrest, police accused their four-year-old daughter of stealing a $5 doll from inside a Family Dollar store.
Footage of the incident shows a police officer handcuffing Ames before throwing him against a car and kicking his leg out from underneath him.
The officer could be heard shouting:
If I tell you to do something, you f*cking do it!
A few seconds later, another officer can be seen pointing his gun at the car in which Ames’ pregnant fiancée, Harper, is sitting along with their two young children.
While the officer screamed ‘put your f*cking hands up or I’ll put a f*cking cap in your head,’ Harper repeatedly told them that she could not raise her arms because she was holding her baby.
Ames told the Phoenix New Times his family were ‘so scared’ they were going to get shot by the officers, who kept threatening to do exactly that.
Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego condemned the police in a statement over the weekend, apologising to the family for their actions.
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.
Police Chief Jeri Williams said she was ‘angry’ and ‘outraged’ at what happened, telling KPNX-TV, as per the Daily Mail, the actions of the police in the video were ‘unacceptable’ and not ‘in keeping with good policing’.
The police chief said:
I am with everyone in the community who is angry, who is outraged.
I have officers out there who are angry and outraged to see this is what brush we are being painted with when I know we that we’re better than that, I know this department is better than that, I know our community is better than that but at the end of the day I have to take responsibility and be accountable.
However, Williams continued to say ‘there are more facts to this story,’ claiming the adults stole further items from the store and ‘commit[ted] a theft’.
She claims the family then drove away, against police instruction, and another female adult was present.
The unidentified woman allegedly got out of the family’s car, it drove away, and then stopped again – at which point the cameras started rolling, Williams claimed.
The police chief confirmed the officers in the footage have been assigned desk duty while an investigation takes place.
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A Broadcast Journalism Masters graduate who went on to achieve an NCTJ level 3 Diploma in Journalism, Lucy has done stints at ITV, BBC Inside Out and Key 103. While working as a journalist for UNILAD, Lucy has reported on breaking news stories while also writing features about mental health, cervical screening awareness, and Little Mix (who she is unapologetically obsessed with).