As the country still reels from a disturbing viral video that showed a Phoenix police officer telling a 22-year-old man "I'm gonna put a fucking cap in your fucking head" in front of his family, the victims have just gained an unexpected, powerful ally.
Billionaire rapper and businessman Jay-Z, a.k.a Shawn Carter, has pledged to aid the family of Dravon Ames in their legal battle against the Phoenix Police Department. Jay-Z and his label, Roc Nation, have hired high-power New York attorney Alex Spiro to assist with the case. The family is already being represented by former Arizona attorney general Tom Horne, and filed a $10 million notice of claim against the city last week.
The incident that sparked the case began when Ames' 4-year-old daughter allegedly walked out of a Family Dollar store with a doll that wasn't paid for. Officers followed the family to a location near 36th and Roosevelt streets, where the video was shot. Multiple officers with guns drawn surrounded the family of four, screaming and swearing at the couple in front of the children, demanding they "put [their] fucking hands up."
One officer, identified by Phoenix PD in a report released on Friday as Christopher Meyer, threatened the family by saying, "You're gonna fucking get shot" and "I'm gonna put a fucking cap in your fucking head." Meyer also attempted to yank Ames' daughter out of his pregnant fiancée's hands and place the child on hot pavement.
Spiro, the lawyer hired by Carter, is known for defending celebrities. His notable clientele includes rapper Bobby Shmurda, NBA players such as Matt Barnes and Thabo Sefolosha, and the late former New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez. Carter also retained him earlier this year to assist with 21 Savage's immigration case after the Atlanta rapper was arrested by ICE for allegedly overstaying a visa.
Phoenix PD received further criticism over the incident after it issued an incident report on Friday, June 14, that seemed to contradict the viral video and omit important information.
Keep Phoenix New Times Free... Since we started Phoenix New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Phoenix with no paywalls.