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Former Phoenix officer continuing to appeal firing, after viral leg sweep and violent threats

Christopher Meyer and Dravon Ames
Posted at 10:32 PM, Apr 19, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-20 01:45:17-04

PHOENIX — A former Phoenix police officer, who was caught on camera kicking a handcuffed father's leg and threatening to shoot parents in the front of their kids, is still fighting to get his job back, nearly two years after the incident.

Later this month Christopher Meyer has another hearing, in his most recent attempt to overturn his 2019 firing. Meyer was a Phoenix cop for more than 24 years, but his decades on the force are defined by less than 24 minutes.

After making a traffic stop, following an alleged shoplifting and failure to stop incident, Meyer threatened to "put a f***ing cap in [the] f***ing head"put a f***ing cap in [the] f***ing head" of Dravon Ames. He repeatedly cussed at the father, his pregnant fiancé, and their two children, even as they complied.

He later had startling omissions in the police report, which was also cited as reason for his termination.

Internally, it was recommended that Meyer receive a six-week suspension, but Chief Jeri Williams said she made the decision to fire him because "the trust was eroded and tarnished the brand of the Phoenix Police Department."

Meyer's attorneys recently filed another complaint alleging the City of Phoenix is ignoring evidence and those internal recommendations for a suspension.

Meyer is asking that a court allow him to get his old job back, as well as back pay for the months he's been fired and attorney's fees.

In the complaint, his attorneys criticize Chief Williams for talking to the media "before the investigation," they sanitize Meyer's language, and they call the handcuffed leg sweep "consistent with training."

His lawyers also allege in the filing that when the City's Civil Service Board upheld Meyer's termination in 2020, two boards members were wrong to talk about the "racial component."

"The Board injected a racial dynamic into the incident that strongly impacted their consideration and decision. There was not one shred of evidence on the record that implies a racial bias or that race motivated Officer Meyer's conduct," wrote the attorneys.

But the City of Phoenix fired back, replying in documents: "The Board's decision was supported by evidence... Any discussions of potential racial biases do not undermine the ultimate conclusion... [and] the Board is entitled to consider all facts and circumstances...[and] members are not required to blind themselves to context."

A judge will decide which argument wins out at the end of April.

Meanwhile, some people are watching Meyer's appeals closely, like Dante Patterson.

A year before Meyer pointed his gun at Dravon Ames, he pepper-sprayed Patterson while working security at Castles and Coasters.

"[Race] did play a factor, because it’s a pattern. You can’t ignore patterns. At the end of the day, it seems like young black man, like he has a lower tolerance level with them," said Patterson.

Patterson says he thinks about Meyer every day and believes if he got his job back it would send a clear message to the community.

"The message would be that officers are untouchable," said Patterson. "If he were to appeal his job multiple times and not get it back - but is actually able to get it back after appealing for a third time. The average man can’t do that but a police officer, who can affect multiple people's lives can do that."

If Officer Meyer wins his complaint and gets his job back with Phoenix police he is still not in the clear.

Arizona POST, which oversees officer's certifications, is also holding a hearing soon to discuss Meyer. If he loses that hearing, he could potentially be stripped of his certification and banned from Arizona law enforcement.

In August 2020, the City of Phoenix settled the incident with the family for $500,000.