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Man in Phoenix shoplifting arrest video facing 2 charges of assault on an officer from 2018 incident

Posted at 4:34 AM, Jun 18, 2019
and last updated 2019-06-18 18:19:56-04

PHOENIX — Two Phoenix Police officers are under investigation and scrutiny worldwide after cell phone video showed them threatening violence, kicking and pointing a gun at a young family.

ABC15 has reported extensively on the viral videos and use of force. Now there is new information emerging about the past of the father whose leg was kicked while handcuffed and the facts that led up to the confrontation.

ABC15 has learned Dravon Ames is currently facing two charges of aggravated assault against an officer, stemming from a 2018 car accident on Halloween in Tempe.

"That case stands on its own. It's last year, and this is now," said Sandra Slaton, an attorney for Ames.

VIDEO: Family involved in controversial video speaks out, calls for justice

The two incidents are separate, and it is unknown if Phoenix police may have known about the prior arrest during the time of their use of force in May. Also, it is unclear how the incident months before impacted the behavior of Ames, who appears to comply the entire time with Phoenix police.

On October 31, 2018, around 5:30 in the morning, Ames was involved in a crash at Rural Road and University Drive.

Officers say Ames was acting strange not answering questions. When they tried detaining Ames, officers said he tried to kick and punch them several times. One officer even wrote that Ames was reaching for his gun.

The report states the officers tased Ames twice in his back, and punched him three to five times in the face.

"The facts sound absolutely atrocious in that case," said Slaton, who is taking over the 2018 assault case from Ames' public defender. She is also helping represent him in the lawsuit against the City of Phoenix.

Dravon allegedly "admitted to smoking marijuana" and was cited for driving under the influence of drugs.

"He is innocent. He pled not guilty," said Slaton.

Attorneys Sandra Slaton and Tom Horne have a different explanation of the charges.

"He was abused, and they fabricated the charge to cover up the abuse," said Horne, a former Arizona Attorney General.

It's unknown if Phoenix Police knew about the charges when they encountered Ames in May.

VIDEO: Phoenix police investigating officers caught sweeping handcuffed man’s leg and pointing gun at car with children inside

"They would've said that by now," said Tom Horne.

That case is still playing out in court, while the recent incident is playing out in public.

Phoenix Police released surveillance video Monday from the Family Dollar, allegedly showing the family shoplifting before later being held at gunpoint, kicked and threatened by officers.

In the video, you can see a 4-year-old girl walking out with a doll. Ames appears to take underwear, and an aunt tosses items on the ground before they all walk out.

"Do you think they are trying to besmirch your client?" asked ABC15's Zach Crenshaw

"Absolutely, without a doubt," said Slaton.

Eventually, a nearby Phoenix officer is alerted to the petty crime. He is seen on camera shrugging. Then the officer is seen walking after the car. He later wrote that the car sped off. No charges were ever filed.

"Nothing justifies what happened to him, his 4-year-old little girl, the baby, his pregnant wife," said Slaton.

The family's lawyers told ABC15 they believe "race plays a huge role."

Slaton said, "They go after people who are vulnerable and where they can easily twist the facts."

Phoenix Police Department has promised to release their facts once their internal investigation is done.

The family is now calling for the two main police officers involved to be fired. We know at least three officers' names from the report, but many others we don't know, including the officer who held the mother and two girls at gunpoint.

A Community Listening Session is scheduled for 6 p.m. Tuesday at Pilgrim Rest Baptist Church in Phoenix. City leaders like Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego, Police Chief Jeri Williams and others are set to be in attendance.