Family Says They Were Held At Gunpoint For Shoplifting Doll, Now Truth Is Out
Phoenix, AZ – Phoenix police are investigating what happened when police stopped a shoplifting family after both father and daughter were caught stealing from a Family Dollar store (video below).
The family has claimed their unbeknownst to them, their young child took a doll without paying.
But surveillance video from the store showed that the family, who has threatened a $10 million lawsuit against Phoenix police for stopping them, was actually shoplifting.
The incident occurred on May 27 at the Family Dollar store on McDowell Road and 36th Street after store employees notified police about several shoplifters who were leaving the store, the Arizona Republic reported.
Phoenix Police Officer Nicholas Welch was already at the Dollar Store dealing with another shoplifting complaint when the manager pointed out 22-year-old Dravon Ames, 24-year-old Lesha Harper, their two young daughters, and 48-year-old Renita Lynn Biscoe and said they had stolen a bunch of toys, according to the incident report from the Phoenix Police Department.
Store surveillance video showed that prior to the store manager’s intervention, Biscoe and the four year old were standing near the checkout inside the store.
The little girl was carrying a Baby Alive doll.
All of a sudden, Biscoe put down the items she was holding and left the store. The four-year-old girl followed her, still carrying the doll which had not been paid for.
A second surveillance video showed Ames inside the Family Dollar as he appeared to be shopping for underwear.
In the video, Ames was holding a package before he turned his back to the camera, and then when he turned back around, the package was gone, the Arizona Republic reported.
That’s when the store manager notified the officer who was already there in response to another shoplifting call.
When the suspects saw Officer Welch looking at them, they fled to their vehicle in the parking lot, but the officer managed to stop Biscoe from leaving, the Arizona Republic reported.
Biscoe put down the foil she had been holding before she left the store, so the officer didn’t see her actually steal anything from the Family Dollar, but it turned out that she was already wanted on warrants by Phoenix, the city of El Mirage, and the Arizona Department of Public Safety (DPS), according to the police report.
Officers attempted to stop Ames, but he fled from them in his vehicle.
An officer located Ames driving after he fled, and initiated a high-risk traffic stop on him at a nearby apartment complex.
The officers ordered the occupants to put their hands up.
Ames began yelling at police that he hadn’t done anything wrong and then reached for something between the seats, according to the police report.
The officer pulled his weapon and ordered them again to put their hands up while saying, "You're gonna f---ing get shot!"
Officers continued to use profanity while giving orders to the family.
Ames started to comply by placing his hands on the steering wheel, but Harper yelled “I have my child in here. I am not putting my hands up!” according to the police report.
Backup officers arrived and Ames complied with orders to get out of the vehicle and was taken into custody.
A cell phone video filmed by a bystander showed Ames lying on the pavement on his stomach while an officer handcuffed him, KPNX reported.
Then the officer stood Ames up and pushed him up against side of a police SUV and ordered him to spread his legs apart.
The video showed the when Ames failed to spread his legs far enough apart, the officer kicked Ames’ right leg out further out, and the man fell to his knees.
That’s when an officer opened the back door of the suspects’ vehicle and ordered Harper out of the car, the video showed.
The four-year-old girl was the first to emerge from the backseat and the video showed the officer immediately holstered his weapon when she appeared.
Then Harper got out carrying a toddler on her hip, the video showed.
In the video, she argued with the police officer who wanted her to step over to a shady area and set the baby down, the Arizona Republic reported.
Harper behaved in a combative manner toward officers throughout the video.
“This is all for nothing,” she cried hysterically as officers walked her and her children across the parking lot.
The officers let Harper pass the children to a friend and then placed her in handcuffs, the video showed.
Police found the stolen doll in the backseat of the suspects’ vehicle, according to the police report.
Harper told police she was in the grocery store next door and her aunt, Biscoe, had taken her four-year-old daughter into the Family Dollar.
She said she knew the doll had to be stolen when she saw it because she knew her aunt and daughter had no money when they went into the store, according to the police report.
Harper said she heard Officer Welch tell them to stop, and that she told Ames to stop, but that he ignored her and continued to flee.
Police did not arrest Harper and she was released shortly thereafter.
When police interviewed Ames, he admitted to stealing a pair of underwear from the Family Dollar, according to the police report.
He said that he threw them out the window somewhere between the store and the apartment complex.
The police report said Ames admitted to officers that he ran because he was scared because his license was suspended from a DUI.
Ames was issued a citation for driving on a suspended license and released. His car was impounded, according to the police report.
No one was arrested for shoplifting because the store manager declined to prosecute, The Washington Post reported.
Maricopa County court records showed that Ames was involved in a car crash on Oct. 31, 2018 and was arrested in connection with assaulting two officers who responded to the scene, the Arizona Republic reported.
Phoenix Police Chief Jeri Williams called what she saw of the arrests in the bystanders’ videos “unacceptable” and said that the officers involved had been taken off patrol and assigned to desk duty while the incident was investigated, KPNX reported.
Chief Williams said the officers were not wearing bodycams because they haven’t been given to police in that precinct yet, but promised to expedite the investigation.
"I am with everyone in the community who is angry, who is outraged,” the chief said. “I have officers out there who are angry and outraged to see this is what brush we are being painted with when I know we that we're better than that, I know this department is better than that, I know our community is better than that but at the end of the day I have to take responsibility and be accountable.”
Ames and Harper held a press conference with their attorney on Monday and demanded that the police officers be fired.
They also announced their intention to sue the city for $10 million and alleged that 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 Washington Post reported.
The lawsuit claims that the four-year-old has been having nightmares and wetting the bed since the incident.
It also says that Ames was left with a limp and no transportation to work, The Washington Post reported.
Watch surveillance video of the shoplifting and the arrests below. WARNING - Language: