PHOENIX — Phoenix Police Chief Jeri Williams says she is firing Officer Christopher Meyer following an internal investigation into a use-of-force incident earlier this year that got national attention.
“The Disciplinary review board recommended (Meyer) receive a six-week unpaid suspension, but the decision on discipline is mine,” Williams said. “And after meeting with the officer, Chris Meyer, personally and considering all the facts of the case, I have notified him of my intention to terminate his employment.”
In June, the Phoenix Police Department opened an investigation into some of its officers and how they handled the shoplifting-theft incident involving 22-year-old Dravon Ames.
How the shoplifting incident unfolded
A $10 million legal claim was filed against the City of Phoenix in May that said police officers committed civil rights violations by pointing guns and profanely yelling commands at Ames and then-pregnant mother of two young daughters Iesha Harper because one of the children took a doll at a dollar store without paying for it.
KNXV obtained a copy of the full police report back in June and discovered major omissions and differences between the officer's account and the witness videos.
For starters, Meyer, who wrote the report and is the man seen cursing at both parents, never mentions that a fellow officer held the mother and two young daughters at gunpoint.
He only writes, "Iesha (Harper) was then removed from the vehicle."
He also does not detail how he kicked the leg of the handcuffed father, Ames, only stating, "(Ames) began to tense his arms and turn back towards me. I made him spread his feet."
In the video, there is no indication that Ames is resisting or ignoring commands.
Finally, Meyer never mentions cussing or violent threats.
At one point in the witness video, Meyer can be heard yelling "I'm gonna f***ing put a cap right in your f***ing head." Meyers also pointed his gun at the car occupied by the family.
The report does mention how the officer instructed the mother, Harper, to "set the child down in the shaded area."
In the video, Harper emotionally tells the officer that the baby could not walk and the ground was too hot to set her down.
In the report, the officer writes she "refused to put the child down." And said, "she became loud, verbally abusive, and refused our commands."
The notice of claim said Ames was injured by police who erroneously claimed he wasn't complying with their commands after Ames exited the vehicle that the family was traveling in.
The notice of claim said Harper, who was five months pregnant at the time, was handcuffed after she gave the child to a bystander and thrown face-first into a police vehicle.
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 the claim.
Police said Harper, the mother of the two children, remained in the vehicle and later explained that she believed one of her daughters had stolen the doll because they didn't have any money.
What happens now
At an impromptu news conference, Ames reacted to news of the firing.
“I think it’s a step in the right direction, change,” Ames said. “It gives us hope you know, it gives us a little hope that they are moving in the right direction. That change is coming and this stuff will stop happening, people will know there are consequences even for officers.”
The decision comes after witness cellphone video went international and sparked a nationwide outcry for accountability, and specifically Meyer’s termination.
The second officer in the video, who held Harper and her young daughters at gunpoint, was given a written reprimand, a recommendation that Williams accepted.
“I think he should’ve been fired too,” Harper said.
The entire situation was traumatizing, the family says, and thrust them into the spotlight of cable news appearances and online harassment.
“Some nights we don’t get no sleep. Some nights you just still think about what happened,” Ames said. “So to know that he’s been fired gives us some type of relief, but there is still a lot more work to be done.”
Ames is referring to reform at the police department as well as work regarding the family’s impending settlement with the city.
“This is partial justice for my clients. For them to get full justice, the job is now mine to get them compensation in the lawsuit,” attorney Tom Horne said. “We will try to mediate, if the city is reasonable, we will settle.”
Horne would not put a price tag on what a reasonable settlement would look like for the family.
The Ames-Harper family filed a notice of claim for $10 million, which includes $2.5 million for their two children.
According to the family’s attorneys, the city has agreed to a mediation that has been scheduled for December 18.
After the case gained national attention, Williams called for an investigation by the Professional Standards Bureau.
See video below of Chief Williams announcing the decision at a Tuesday afternoon press conference.
This story was originally published on KNXV.