Jay Z hires top lawyer to assist family held at gunpoint by police for $1 Barbie stolen by 4-year-old
The firm has reportedly hired well-known attorney Alex Spiro to work pro bono with the family's lawyers. The high-powered attorney will join the legal team preparing to sue the city of Phoenix for $10 million.
Days after a black family in Phoenix, Arizona, was held at gunpoint after their 4-year-old daughter stole a $1 store Barbie, rapper Jay-Z stepped in to help the family. Reports stated the star rapper hired a high-powered attorney to join the legal team preparing to sue the city of Phoenix for $10 million.
The news came to light after multiple videos of the incident went viral on social media this weekend. The clips show Phoenix police holding a family and their children at gunpoint after their 4-year-old child stole a dollar store Barbie doll.
The parents of the two children, 22-year-old Dravon Ames and 24-year-old Aisha Harper, reportedly filed a notice of claim Thursday, accusing the police officers of committing battery, unlawful imprisonment, infliction of emotional distress and false arrests, according to News Maven. The parents said they were not aware their eldest daughter had taken the doll out of the store.
Along with the couple's lawyers, the philanthropic arm of Jay-Z's entertainment company Roc Nation has stepped in to assist the family. The firm has reportedly hired well-known attorney Alex Spiro to work pro bono with the family's lawyers. Reports stated Roc Nation is also looking to take legal action against the police officers involved in the incident, asking for the officials to be fired.
Dania Diaz, the firm's managing director of philanthropy, deemed the incident "absolutely sickening" and said: "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."
In the shocking videos, one of the police officers can be heard screaming: "You're gonna f**king get shot! I'm gonna put a f**king cap in your head!" The Phoenix police department, however, has refused to identify the officers seen in the videos.
This video below contains strong language
According to court documents, the officers were responding to an anonymous 911 caller reporting the possible shoplifting of a Barbie doll from a dollar store. The store, however, did not place the call to the police and did not want the family persecuted. Multiple clips of the incident show police officers with their gun drawn as they scream profanities and use foul language at the family in front of the two children. Some officers can be seen surrounding the family's car, pulling their guns out and threatening to kill them as Ames puts his hands up to show he is not armed.
The family's lawsuit stated that the "police 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 first officer grabbed the mother and the baby around both of their necks, and tried to take the baby out of the mother's hand. He told her to put the baby on the ground, which she was unwilling to do because the baby could not walk, and the ground consisted of hot pavement," the complaint stated. "The first officer pulled the baby by the arm to get her away from the mother, which injured the arm, in a condition known as 'dead arm.' Island [the couple's 1-year-old child] has been having nightmares and wetting her bed, which she has not done before this incident."
"Harper says one of the officers told her while she was detained and handcuffed in the back of the police car that he 'could have shot you in front of your f**king kids,'" the suit claimed.
Shortly after the incident hit headlines, the Phoenix Police Department released a statement on Friday, releasing more information on what led to the incident. The officers present at the scene did not believe the family possessed any weapons and were only responding to a shoplifting incident, according to the Phoenix New Times. According to police, they pursued the family after they received a call indicating the family had allegedly stolen food and underwear from the store.
After the videos and news went viral, Phoenix Police Chief Jeri Williams released a statement on Sunday, apologizing to the family. Williams, while speaking to 12 News, said: "What we saw in that video isn't keeping with good policing; it's unacceptable."