The Phoenix Police Department has been facing massive backlash after a violent arrest of a Black family with young children was captured on camera late last month. Now other disturbing incidents involving the disgraced police department have come to light in the midst of its most recent controversy.
Witness video shows Phoenix police officer Christopher Meyer screaming profanity-laced death threats at a Black family that included Dravon Ames, 22, his pregnant fiance Aisha Harper, 24, and their two young daughters on May 29.
“You’re gonna fucking get shot!” the cop yells at one point.
“I’m gonna put a fucking cap in your fucking head,” he said in another instance.
Meyer also pointed a gun at the family and threatened to shoot them while demanding Harper put her infant baby on the hot ground despite the fact she could not walk. And all of this because a four-year-old allegedly took a 99 cent doll. In his official report, Meyer failed to mention that he pointed a gun at the family and how he kicked Ames, among other key details that helped make the incident’s video go viral.
Ames and Harper said they plan to sue the city for $10 million as officials investigate the incident.
Phoenix Police Chief Jeri Williams, who is a Black woman, released a video on the department’s Facebook page on Friday saying she was “disturbed by the language and actions of our officer.” Williams had to release another video prior to this incident after a new database outed racist Facebook posts made by police officers around the country, many of whom were with the force in Phoenix.
According to the Phoenix New Times, there were 282 posts by 97 current and former police officers that refer to Black people as “thugs.”
In addition, four of the nearly 300 officers have been accused of killing people.
On June 3, Phoenix Police Sergeant Vincent Lewis released a statement announcing that the department was investigating the posts.
“This particular inquiry was reviewed by our Professional Standards Bureau and did not rise to the level of misconduct on the part of the employee,” Lewis said. “The department is aware of the remaining report now available to us online and will be looking into other potential misconduct by current employees.”
According to ABC 15, a review of the department done by the National Police Foundation study showed there were 44 police-involved shootings in 2018, which proved to be a record-breaking year.
There have been several police-involved shootings in 2019, including one in January, 19-year-old Jacob Harris was shot after being pulled over for suspicion of committing an armed robbery.
Over the years there have also been instances where officers have killed a man and his dog for no reason, committed perjury, staged traffic stops to steal money from drug dealers, body slammed a 15-year-old girl against a wall and much more.
Another major issue that has presented itself with the recent incident with Ames and Harper was the Phoenix Police Department’s lack of body cameras.
With Phoenix being the fifth largest city in the country, it is telling that most officers do not have body cameras, which can help provide transparency. The department tried a pilot program in 2013 and dispatched only 300 cameras, but it never expanded. There were also standstills with bidding as they tried to figure out who would be the provider. Then in February, the city council approved a $5 million budget to fund 2,000 body cameras and Mayor Kate Gallego claimed the city would have the cameras distributed by the end of the summer. According to AZ Central, community officers who assist with block watches, community groups and neighborhood enforcement teams would not wear cameras.
Arizona Governor Doug Ducey was not too sure that more body cameras would solve the issue within the Phoenix PD.
“I do think technology can help here,” Ducey said. “I know that cameras are being rolled out in different precincts in Phoenix police. I think we all ought to behave as if we’re on camera, especially in a setting like this.”