PHOENIX, AZ — The Phoenix Police Department has opened an investigation into some of its officers and how they handled a shoplifting-theft incident.
The decision comes after cell phone video was released showing an officer sweeping the leg of a handcuffed man.
Seconds later, another officer points his gun at the backseat of a car before a pregnant mother and her two young daughters emerge. The officer then holsters his weapon. “The minute he saw there were children involved, that's when he holstered his weapon,” said Phoenix Police Sgt. Tommy Thompson.
Sgt. Thompson told ABC15 that Chief Jeri Williams has called for an investigation by the Professional Standards Bureau. “We look at every allegation of misconduct very seriously,” he said.
The family meanwhile, has already secured former Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne as an attorney for a potential lawsuit.
The incident allegedly started after reports of a theft or shoplifting at a dollar store. The car police say matched the description of the suspect's vehicle was pulled over a short time later.
The cell phone video begins with 22-year-old Dravon Ames flat on the pavement with his hands behind his back being handcuffed by a Phoenix police officer.
Shortly after, he is yanked off the ground, pressed up against a squad car, and then his right leg is kicked by the officer.
The officer then yells, “If I tell you to do something you (expletive) do it!" “Yes, sir,” replies Ames.
Shortly after, Ames' leg is swept and another officer approaches the vehicle the suspect was in and points a gun at the backseat. That is when the mother and her two daughters open the door and walk out.
Both Ames and the woman were handcuffed and detained, but neither was arrested.
A family spokesperson says the two were considered shoplifting suspects, stemming from their daughter taking a doll from a dollar store.
Ames says the officer never identified himself and never signaled them with the lights and sirens.
"A police officer, we don't know who he is, a guy, random guy came up to the door banging on the window with a gun, says he's going to shoot us in our face, telling us to get out of the car. He hasn't alerted us that we're being pulled over anything," Ames said.
"If you look at the video pretty good I'm snatched out the car and I fly back and that's when he grabs me out the car.
My hands were up the whole time," Ames said. "It was just a very scary situation I never thought I'd be in. Traumatizing for me and my daughters," said Aesha Harper, the girls' mother.
When asked about the circumstances surrounding the incident, Sgt. Thompson said “That's part of it, but as I've looked into it, I think there's a little bit more to it.”
ABC15 asked if Sgt. Thompson could elaborate. “No, that will come through in the investigation," he said.
The family has spoken with former State Attorney General Tom Horne about a potential lawsuit, but nothing has been filed yet.
A family spokesperson also says they have more video, from a different angle, to support their case.
The officer who swept Ames' leg is “on a non-enforcement assignment right now.”
The other officer, who drew his firearm, remains on normal patrol.