A young father whose family is at the center of controversial videos showing him and his fiancée being threatened at gunpoint by Phoenix police in the presence of their young daughters told thousands of mostly black and Hispanic residents Tuesday night that he is thankful to God that his family emerged from the encounter alive.
“I want to thank God for sparing my family that day,” the father, Dravon Ames, 22, said at the Pilgrim Rest Baptist Church where Police Chief Jeri Williams and Mayor Kate Gallego pledged to listen as residents vented their fear and frustration with the Police Department in the wake of the video which has sparked local and national outrage, AZ Central reported.
The videos show officers pointing guns and screaming threats at Ames, his pregnant fiancée, Lesha Harper, and their two young daughters, after the family said their 4-year-old took a doll from a Family Dollar store without their knowledge.
Police have not submitted any charges against the family stemming from the incident, ABC 15 reported.
At a press conference Monday, Sandra Slaton, an attorney for the family who has filed a $10 million claim against the city alleging civil rights violations, said the actions of the police regarding the family were unwarranted.
“I thought something bad was going to happen to me and my children. I thought I was going to be shot, like he told me,” Harper, the pregnant mother in the video said.
She explained that her daughter has been left traumatized by the incident and is now afraid of the police.
“I always taught my daughter to depend on the police. She had to find out herself she cannot depend on the police,” Harper said.