Tuesday 18 June 2019

Phoenix mayor apologizes after video of reported police brutality goes viral. But will the city take action?

Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego (D) issued an apology over the weekend after a recent episode of alleged policy brutality went viral, generating widespread backlash and a multimillion-dollar lawsuit from those whom police reportedly targeted.
But will the city take action against the officers involved?

What's the background?

Dravon Ames and his pregnant fiancée, Iesha Harper, claim police violated their civil rights last month when police aggressively confronted the couple and their two young children over allegations that one of the children had taken a doll from a nearby store.
In a video clip that has since gone viral, police repeatedly curse at the couple while screaming demands. With guns drawn, one officer even screamed, "I'm going to shoot you in your f***ing face!" Another officer — it's not clear if it is the same officer who made the first threat — threatened to "put a cap" in Ames' head.
At no point does the video show the couple resisting officers or ignoring commands during the tense situation. Still, after Ames is handcuffed, the video shows an officer kicking him while on the ground.
No charges were filed against the couple, and they were released from police custody at the scene.
The couple filed a $10 million lawsuit against the city last week alleging the officers committed battery, unlawful imprisonment, false arrest, inflicted of emotional distress, and violated their civil rights.
In response, the Phoenix Police Department said its "Professional Standards Bureau" was investigating the incident. Meanwhile, Phoenix Police Chief Jeri Williams said she was "disturbed by the language and the actions" of her officers as seen in the video, according to KPNX-TV.
KPNX reported that the police report refutes many of the claims made by Ames and Harper. In fact, the sides differ on the day the incident occurred. The police say it happened on May 27, while the lawsuit claims it happened on May 29.

What did the mayor say?

"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," Gallego said.
"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," she added.
In response to the incident, Gallego said the city would speed up implementation of police body cameras as well as hold a community meeting "to listen directly to the concerns of our community members."
She did not, however, announce disciplinary action against the officers involved, nor did Williams.

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