JAY-Z Provides Legal Assistance To A Family Terrorized By Phoenix Police
On May 29, an on-duty, in-uniform police officer was caught on video pointing his weapon, shouting profanity, and threatening a young Black family in Phoenix, Arizona. The footage quickly went viral, sparking much controversy and social outrage.
Following the incident, 22-year-old Dravon Ames and 24-year-old Aisha Harper officially filed their lawsuit against the city of Phoenix, seeking $10 million under the claim that the officers involved committed battery, unlawful imprisonment, false arrest, violated their civil rights, and inflicted unnecessary emotional distress. Now, Hip-Hop’s first billionaire and longtime social activist, JAY-Z, is joining the family’s fight.
As the nation continues to digest and react to the Phoenix altercation, Jay and the philanthropic department of his entertainment company, Roc Nation, have formally offered legal support to the family. Roc Nation’s Managing Director of Philanthropy, Dania Diaz, spoke candidly regarding the controversial event, “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.”
JAY-Z has also enlisted the help from high profile trial lawyer, Alex Spiro, to join the family’s legal team, pro-bono. Spiro will also spearhead the family’s demand for the termination of the police officers involved. They also plan on filing against one of the officers for child neglect. In years past, Spiro has represented the likes of JAY-Z, Mick Jagger, Bobby Shmurda, and athletes including Thabo Sefolosha, DeMarcus Cousins, Julian Edelman, and Charles Oakley.
According to reports, Ames and a pregnant Harper were pulled by Phoenix police officer Christopher Meyer near 36th and Roosevelt Street following a trip to the Dollar Store. Allegedly, the two were stopped because their four-year-old daughter had taken a 99-cent doll as the family exited the shop.
In the video, Officer Christopher Meyer yells incessantly and repeatedly, “Get your f*cking hands up,” to which Ames replies in fear, multiple times, “My hands are up! My hands are up!” Later, Meyer screams, “You’re gonna f*cking get shot!” Moments later, he adds, “I’m gonna put a f*cking cap in your f*cking head!”
Officer Meyer and his partner did so with a gun pointed at the family and multiple threats to shoot them. The officers also demanded Harper put her baby onto the hot pavement. Harper implored the officer to allow her to continue to hold her child, as the baby was unable to walk.
Further in the video, Meyer’s partner yells, pointing the gun at the hood of the car, and shouting to Harper, “Get out of the f*cking car! Get out the f*cking car right now!” The officer then yells for Harper to put her hands up. She replies, crying, “I can’t put my hands up, I have a baby in my hands. I can’t. I’m pregnant.”
On Friday (June 14), Arizona’s ABC15 obtained a copy of Officer Meyer’s official police report, which was met with many conflicting and differing details between the officer’s story and the video at large. According to the report, Meyer “never mentions that a fellow officer held the mother and two young daughters at gunpoint. He only writes, ‘Aisha was then removed from the vehicle.’ He also does not detail how he kicked the leg of the handcuffed father, Dravon Ames. Meyer stated that, [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, Officer Meyer never mentions [his own] cussing or violent threats.”
On the same evening that ABC15‘s report was released, Phoenix Police Chief Jeri Williams released a video, explaining that an internal investigation went underway as soon as she became aware of the video. “I, like you, am disturbed by the language and the actions of our officer. I assure you that this incident is not representative of the majority of Phoenix police officers who serve this city,” Williams said.
The Phoenix Police later reported that the officer who attacked Ames is now on a “non-enforcement assignment.” The other officer remains on patrol.