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Phoenix says it can't immediately fire officers seen yelling at couple in viral video

Posted at 1:31 PM, Jul 03, 2019
and last updated 2019-07-03 21:34:10-04

PHOENIX — Phoenix council members trying to quell outcry over a confrontation between police and a black couple said Wednesday that the city charter prevented them from acting on a formal request to fire the officers caught on video pointing guns and hurling obscenities at a pregnant woman and her fiance.

A representative for the couple made the request before a City Council meeting, which Dravon Ames and his pregnant fiancee, Iesha Harper, attended.

They have filed a $10 million claim against the city. Mayor Kate Gallego noted that under Phoenix's charter, the council cannot fire police officers. The city's legal staff also said state laws and a memorandum of understanding with the police union prevent termination of officers without due process.

The officers could still face disciplinary action, including termination. An internal investigation of the officers is underway, and their future is in the hands of Police Chief Jeri Williams and the department's professional standards bureau.

FULL COVERAGE: Phoenix use of force incident

At a policy meeting Tuesday, the Phoenix City Council took action to ease distrust of police in the nation's fifth-largest city.

The council agreed to look into software that can identify officers with problems and voted to consider a survey of community attitudes toward the Police Department. Council members also discussed the creation of a review board that would give citizens some oversight over police.

TIMELINE: Events surrounding Phoenix police use of force incident

Williams, who is black, said she and other department leaders had been meeting with officers over the past two weeks to discuss the incident and make expectations clear. In another move aimed at increasing transparency and trust, the department is speeding up distributing more body-worn cameras to police.

The officers responding to a shoplifting report in bystander video released last month were not wearing body cameras.