Phoenix City Council approves settlement over controversial 2019 police encounter with Black family

The City of Phoenix approved a nearly half-million settlement with a family whose encounter with police gained national attention in 2019.

During a City Council meeting on August 26, members of the council approved, in a six-to-two vote, a $475,000 settlement with the family of Dravon Ames and Iesha Harper.

The vote took place amid a planned protest in Downtown Phoenix by Black Lives Matter supporters over police brutality.

Councilmember Carlos Garcia the only member who spoke after the vote.

"The money won't take away the trauma or the harm that has been caused, but I hope the children will have a better life for it," said Councilmember Garcia.

Video of violent encounter went viral

A video of the encounter was published on social media, after a bystander captured the footage outside an apartment complex after the family had left a discount retailer location where a doll was reportedly taken.

The accounts of the encounter provided by the family and law enforcement are conflicting.

Parents Ames and Harper said an officer injured their 1-year-old daughter in May 2019 by pulling on one of her arms after the mother refused a command to put the child down. The mother said the girl couldn't walk and the pavement was hot.

The officer who pulled on the child's arm had profanely told Harper that he could have shot her in front of her children, according to a Notice of Claim that was filed in 2019.

According to the claim, Ames was reportedly injured by police who erroneously claimed he wasn't complying with their commands, after Ames exited the vehicle that the family was traveling in.

An officer is accused of throwing Ames against vehicle, kicking his leg so hard that Ames collapsed and punching him for no reason. The claim said one of the officers profanely told Ames in front of his children that he was going to shoot him in the face.

"No threat, no resistance," said Tom Horne, an attorney representing the family, in 2019. "It was completely unjustified."

While the parents' attorney said the child and father were injured in the encounter, police said no injuries were reported to them.

Police also said there were other stolen items in the vehicle during the encounter besides the doll.

No one was charged with shoplifting because the property was returned, and store employees didn't want the case prosecuted, police said.

Family reacts to settlement

On August 26, the family says that this is just the beginning of the justice they are demanding, but they're glad it's over, and that they can move forward.

"I just want to say I'm glad we got justice," said Harper. "It's been hell dealing with my kids and what happened. I'm glad justice was served.:"

Harper says it's a relief.

"It's been a long time. It feels good. Glad that it's over. Got my justice. I know it's not over, over, but it's somewhat over."

Community activist responds

Jrett Maupin says the money is just the beginning for change in the city.

"It's happening to black people, but now everyone, all taxpayers, are paying for the wrongful actions of the police," said Maupin.