PHOENIX, AZ (KPHO/KTVK) — Phoenix Police Chief Jeri Williams says she has fired a police officer involved in a May shoplifting call, which ended up in a videotaped confrontation that went viral.
Williams addressed the media and the public Tuesday about the internal investigation into the incident.
On May 27, Dravon Ames and Iesha Harper, who was five months pregnant at the time, didn’t realize their 4-year-old had taken a doll from the Family Dollar Store at 36th Street and McDowell Road until they were in the car.
The family claims an officer went up to Ames, pointed a gun at him and said, “I’m going to put a cap in your (expletive).” The officer also said, “I’m gonna shoot you in your (expletive) face,” the family says.
Their 4-year-old and their 1-year-old children were in the back seat of the car.
The family claims the officer pulled Ames out of the car, kicked him in the right leg, punched him in the back, and pointed a gun at the mother and children inside.
The video of the incident went viral and drew national attention, and the family filed a notice of claim, which is a precursor to a lawsuit.
Chief Williams said both of the officers involved were sent to the disciplinary review board.
One officer received a written reprimand.
But Williams says she has informed the second officer, Chris Meyer, that his actions caused adverse effects on both the Phoenix Police Department and our community, and that she intended to terminate him. She said she feels like a suspension was not sufficient.
“The behavior we witnessed was unacceptable,”said Williams.
Rev. Jarrett Maupin, who represents Ames and Harper, released a statement about the firing on Tuesday.
“Today, the Ames-Harper family and the community moved closer to realizing the substantive justice required to resolve this case and address the related police brutality crisis. The firing of Officer Meyer was expected all along and should not be considered a brave step by city leaders. The violence perpetrated against the Ames-Harper family was always beneath the dignity and honor of law enforcement officers. Today, Christopher Meyer, violator of civil rights, has been removed from their ranks.”
Maupin, a civil rights leader, also held a news conference late Tuesday afternoon, accompanied by Dravon Ames, Iesha Harper and their children.
Mapuin says there is “some relief” at the news of Meyer’s firing, the officer he called “the ringleader” during the incident.
“It’s never been about just firing police. It’s also been about strengthening policies and procedures and making sure our officers are trained.”
But he also said there is an underlying problem on the police force of brutality and use of force. “We need top quality people who aren’t bigots and bullies,” Maupin said.
“I think I might be able to get a good night’s rest for once,” Dravon Ames commented when asked about the officer’s termination. “It gives us hope. People will know there are consequences, even for officers.”
The Phoenix Law Enforcement Association, an organization that represents the rank and file in Phoenix, also released a statement regarding Williams’ decision.
“The Phoenix Law Enforcement Association (PLEA) has a complete understanding of the position Chief Jeri Williams is in as the leader of the Phoenix Police Department and as an appointed employee of the City of Phoenix. However, we do not agree with the decision to terminate the employment of Officer Christopher Meyer and Detective Clinton Swick.
“PLEA is dedicated to its members, and we ensure that we carry our members’ interests through until the end of all the processes that encompass employment with the City of Phoenix. An appeal hearing is in order, as the Discipline Review Boards for both Officer Christopher Meyer and Detective Clinton Swick recommended suspensions without pay that were on the lower spectrum of the discipline class. Neither Discipline Review Board, which are composed of community members and police employees, recommended terminating either Officer Meyer or Detective Swick.”
During Tuesday’s news conference, Chief Williams also discussed an investigation into the social media posts of numerous officers. She said 72 officers were flagged for their social media activity.
Those officers received various levels of discipline, with some being put on leave and one officer, Dave Swick, was fired.
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