UPDATED: Jay-Z Hires Lawyer for Family Held at Gunpoint over Stolen Barbie
The viral videos we reported about this weekend showing Phoenix police holding a family and their children at gunpoint after their 4-year-old walked out of with an unpaid Barbie doll have caught the attention of billionaire rap mogul Jay-Z, who has hired a high-powered attorney to join the legal team preparing to sue the city of Phoenix for $10 million.
Parents of two young children, Dravon Ames, 22, and Aisha Harper, 24, filed a notice of claim on Thursday accusing police officers of committing battery, false arrest, unlawful imprisonment and infliction of emotional distress.
Now, the philanthropic arm of Jay-Z's entertainment company, Roc Nation, has hired Alex Spiro, a well-known attorney, to work with the family's attorneys pro bono.
Roc Nation also said it plans additional legal action against the police officers involved and is calling for them to be fired.
The notice of claim (to sue) also accuses officers of violating the couple's civil rights.
Roc Nation's managing director of philanthropy Dania Diaz called the incident 'absolutely sickening.'
"There is no place for that behavior in our world — let along our justice system — and we are calling for the immediate termination of the police officers in question," Diaz said.
"We are committed to supporting the family to ensure that justice is served."
The Phoenix Police Department is refusing to identify any of the officers seen in the videos.
"You're gonna fucking get shot!" one Phoenix police officer can be heard screaming the shocking videos that surfaced this week.
"I'm gonna put a fucking cap in your head!"
Police were responding to an anonymous 911 caller reporting the possible shoplifting of a Dollar Store Barbie doll.
The Family Dollar store did not place the call to police, according to court documents.
Multiple videos show Phoenix police officers with guns drawn, screaming orders rife with profanities and foul language. Officers are seen surrounding the car, pulling their guns and threatening to kill them.
Ames puts his hands up to show he isn't armed.
On Friday, at around 2 p.m. the Phoenix Police Department released a statement containing more information about what led up to the incident.
According to the statement published by the Phoenix New Times, officers did not believe the family to be in possession of any weapons.
Police say they pursued the family after the received a call the family allegedly stole food and underwear from the Dollar Store.
"On May 27, 2019, at approximately 11:17 a.m., a Phoenix Police Officer was investigating an unrelated shoplifting at a store in the area of 1600 N. 36th Street, when he was advised by store employees of another shoplifting. The officer was directed to some individuals who were getting into a vehicle. He observed a woman drop a “food foil,” when she saw him. As he walked towards the vehicle, the car quickly backed up and started to leave parking lot. It stopped at McDowell Road, and one of the women got out and the car drove away. The woman was detained by the officer. It was later found the woman he detained had three misdemeanor warrants for her arrest. She was later booked for the warrants.
A description of the vehicle was broadcasted over the radio. The vehicle was located a short distance from the store near 32nd Street and McDowell Road and followed it was followed into the parking lot of an apartment complex in the area of 3200 E. Roosevelt Street, where a man and woman in the car were taken into custody and detained. After being advised of her rights, the woman who had been detained, said her aunt and child went into the store and when she saw her child walk out of the store with a doll, she believed they had stolen it, because they didn’t have any money.
She heard the officer who approached the car in the parking lot tell the driver to stop several times, but he didn’t. After being advised of his rights, the man said he knew they had shoplifted from the store and that he threw a pair of underwear out the window, because he knew they were stolen. In addition, he stated he knew he was driving on a suspended driver license. Because the property was returned, the store employees said they did not desire prosecution, so no one was charged with the shoplifting. The man however, was cited and his vehicle was impounded, due to his driving on a suspended license."
Now, Dravon Ames, his pregnant fiancée, Iesha Harper, and their two young children have filed a notice of claim against the city of Phoenix for $10 million in damages, according to the Phoenix New Times.
"The police officers committed battery, unlawful imprisonment, false arrest, infliction of emotional distress, and violation of civil rights under the fifth and 14th amendments of the United States Constitution," the family's lawsuit states.
"The first officer grabbed the mother and the baby around both of their necks, and tried to take the baby out of the mother's hand. He told her to put the baby on the ground, which she was unwilling to do because the baby could not walk, and the ground consisted of hot pavement," the complaint states.
"The first officer pulled the baby by the arm to get her away from the mother, which injured the arm, in a condition known as 'dead arm.' Island [the couple's 1-year-old child] has been having nightmares and wetting her bed, which she has not done before this incident."
"Harper says one of the officers told her while she was detained and handcuffed in the back of the police car that he "could have shot you in front of your fucking kids."
Video posted by ABC News on Twitter shows one of the officer sweeping Ames' leg.
Ames and Harper have both said they were unaware their eldest daughter had taken the doll out of the store.
In the past, Roc Nation has offered assistance in other cases of injustices that made national headlines.
In November 2018, the company got involved in the case of a man who was arrested while wearing a hoodie inside of a Memphis mall.
Roc Nation also came to the assistance of an 11-year-old boy in Florida after he was arrested for refusing to stand for the Pledge of Allegiance earlier this year, according to Daily Mail.
Roc Nation also helped fight against authorities who planned to deport rapper 21 Savage.
On Sunday, Phoenix Police Chief Jeri Williams said she has apologized to the family.
"What we saw in that video isn't keeping with good policing; it's unacceptable," she told 12 News.
Watch all videos that have surfaced on social media so far, as well as read the notice of claim, below.