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Police release report on shoplifting incident as family seeks $10M from Phoenix for alleged excessive force

The City of Phoenix has been served with a notice of claim for $10 million for alleged excessive use of force and civil rights violation of a family.

The City of Phoenix was notified of a potential lawsuit in response to officers' handling of a reported shoplifting incident in May. 

A notice of claim was served to the City of Phoenix Thursday regarding the incident on May 29 at an apartment complex near 36th Street and McDowell Road that started with a shopping trip.

The incident started when Dravon Ames, Iesha Harper, and their two young children, London, 1, and Island, 4, were shopping in the plaza at 32nd Street and McDowell Road.  

While the couple was taking their two daughters to the babysitter to an apartment complex nearby, they got stopped by police and a confrontation escalated, according to the notice.

The couple said officers were pointing guns at them in front of their daughters, saying things like, "I'm going to shoot you in your f------ face," according to the notice of claim.

Videos from witnesses show officers pointing guns at the parents and shouting at them. There are multiple instances where the officers threaten to shoot them in front of their children. 

RELATED: Phoenix PD investigate possible police misconduct in video of officers detaining couple

WATCH: This video syncs the perspectives of two citizen-shot videos of the confrontation May 27 between Phoenix police and Dravon Ames and fiancee Iesha Harper outside a Phoenix apartment complex. The first voice heard shouting at the couple is that of Officer Christopher Meyer, a 24-year veteran. The officer who enters about 40 seconds later hasn't been identified by Phoenix police. A spokesman told 12 News the officer has been on the force about one year. WARNING: Some viewers might find the language in these videos offensive.

The notice of claim alleges police had no body cameras and filed no incident report, but Phoenix police released the incident report on Friday. 

The police report said the incident took place on the morning of May 27. According to police, store employees reported a shoplifting incident while police were investigating an unrelated shoplifting incident in the area. 

The police report says the suspect car fled from an officer who told them to stop and was headed west on McDowell Road. Another officer said he followed the car to a nearby apartment complex. 

When the driver pulled into a parking space, the officer said he made contact on the driver's side. As the driver's door opened, the officer told the people in the car to get their hands up, police said.

According to the report, Ames started to yell at the officer that he did not do anything wrong and started reaching toward the center of the vehicle between the front seats. The report says the officer drew his gun and continued to loudly give commands.

Ames put his hands up above the steering wheel, and the officer saw Harper and her two children in the back seat "moving frantically," the report says. 

According to the police report, when the officer told Harper to raise her hands in the air, she refused and said, "I have my child in here, I am not putting my hands up."

The officer said in the report that Harper kept her hands down by the seat and that he feared she was hiding something or reaching for a weapon. 

The report says more officers arrived, and Ames was told to get out of the vehicle and walk toward them. Police said he did so while loudly saying he did nothing wrong. 

In video of the incident, an officer can then be seen sweeping the legs of the man in handcuffs and he shouts, "If I tell you to do something, you f------ do it," and Ames responds, "I am."

The police report says the officer spread Ames' feet and did a pat-down search because he noticed Ames tense his arms and turn back toward him as the officer was handcuffing Ames and leading him to the patrol car.

The notice of claim says there was no resistance at any time and that during the pat-down, the officer punched Ames in the back without provocation.

Police tell Harper to get out of the car with her children. At one point, in a video of the incident, an officer shouts "You're going to f------ get shot!" when Harper tells the officer the door won't open.  

Harper got out of the car holding London and holding Island's hand. The officer said in the report he told her to set the child down in the shaded area, but she became verbally abusive and refused commands. 

The notice of claim says this is when the officer "grabbed the mother and the baby around both of their necks, and tried to take the baby out of the mother's hand."

The police report, meanwhile, says Harper was walking away and shouting, refusing to put her children in the shaded area when two bystanders came down from the second level of the apartment complex. 

One video from a bystander shows an officer appearing to try to grab the child out of Harper's arms at one point. 

Police said Harper eventually handed the children to the bystanders, and the officer handcuffed Harper and put her in the back of a patrol vehicle.

Police said a box with a doll was found in the back seat of the family's car that matched the description of the doll reported stolen from the Family Dollar Store.

According to the report, Harper said she and Ames went to the Food City and while they were there, her aunt decided to go into the Dollar Store with Island. 

Harper reportedly told police she knew they did not have any money and when Island walked out of the store with the doll, she knew they had to have stolen it. 

Harper said she heard the police officer tell Ames to stop as they drove away, but he did not because he was scared, according to the report. Harper told police she told Ames several times to stop and that she wanted to get out of the car but didn't because of the children.  

Police said Harper was released at the scene after her interview. 

Ames told police he was scared when he saw the police officer and just wanted to leave because he knew they had shoplifted from the store, according to the police report. 

He said he threw a pair of underwear out of the window as police followed him because he knew they were stolen, according to the police report. 

The report says Ames admitted to having a suspended license from a prior DUI arrest. Police issued a citation for driving on a suspended license and he was released at the scene, the report says. 

Police said the vehicle was impounded because of the suspended license. The family's notice of claim says the car was impounded with no justification. 

The notice of claim alleges the couple's arms were injured during the handcuffing, but police said in a statement Friday that no injuries to the family from the incident were reported. 

According to the notice of claim, the police officers committed battery, unlawful imprisonment, false arrest, infliction of emotional distress and violation of civil rights.

The notice states the case can be settled for $2.5 million for each of the four claimants, or $10 million total. 

Phoenix police said its professional standards bureau is investigating the incident in response to the allegations of misconduct. The investigation is ongoing. 

Late Friday afternoon, Phoenix police posted a message from Chief Jeri Williams. She said she was "disturbed by the language and the actions" of the officer in the videos of the incident. 

"For those of you who have made public comments and have contacted me personally about the video, I get it. Your concerns are also my concerns," she said in the video. 

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