Jay Z hires lawyer for family threatened at gunpoint by cops after four-year-old took a doll
Rapper Jay Z has stepped in to offer legal support to a family who were threatened at gunpoint by police after their four-year-old accidentally shoplifted.
Phoenix couple Dravon Ames, 22, and Aisha Harper, 24 - parents to two children - were held at gunpoint by police in Arizona after their young daughter took a Barbie doll worth one dollar. Now, the philanthropic arm of Jay Z's entertainment company, Roc Nation, has given them a high-powered lawyer to help with their case, as the couple prepare to sue the city for $10 million.
Ames and Harper filed a notice of claim on Thursday for the incident that took place in May, accusing the officers of committed battery, unlawful imprisonment, false arrest, and infliction of emotional distress - with the police also being accused of violating the couple's civil rights.
Dania Diaz, who is Roc Nation’s managing director of philanthropy, described the incident as "absolutely sickening", and promised to do whatever it takes to get the couple justice.
"There is no place for that behavior in our world – let alone our justice system – and we are calling for the immediate termination of the police officers in question. We are committed to supporting the family to ensure that justice is served."
After their daughter had allegedly taken the doll, the couple drove to a nearby apartment complex to drop their child off at a babysitter's, before police showed up, banging on their car window and threatening to kill them.
"Our hands are up, we're just trying not to get shot, trying to stay calm," said Ames to CNN after the horrific incident, with police heard on camera saying: "I'm gonna put a f****** cap inside your f****** ass." Meanwhile, Ames' fiancée Harper said: "I really thought he was gonna shoot me in front of the kids."
In a statement, Phoenix Mayor, Kate Gallego, apologised to the family, posting to Facebook to denounce the police involvement. "I, like many others, am sick over what I have seen in the video depicting Phoenix police interacting with a family and young children. It was completely inappropriate and clearly unprofessional," she said.
"There is no situation in which this behavior is ever close to acceptable. As a mother myself, seeing these children placed in such a terrifying situation is beyond upsetting. I am deeply sorry for what this family went through, and I apologize to our community.
This is not who we are, and I refuse to allow this type of behavior to go unchallenged. I have spoken directly with our Police Chief, City Manager, and our Public Safety Subcommittee Chairman."
"The Phoenix Police Department takes all allegations of misconduct seriously and for this reason, this incident is currently being investigated by the Professional Standards Bureau," said authorities from the local police department.
The couple say they were released shortly after the arrest, and the shop manager refused to press charges.