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Phoenix Police Fires Officers From Viral Video, Facebook Post Incidents

Phoenix Police Chief Jeri Williams announced the firing of three officers today.EXPAND
Phoenix Police Chief Jeri Williams announced the firing of three officers today.
Meg O’Connor
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Phoenix Police Chief Jeri Williams announced today that she has terminated the officer at the center of a viral video that captured the nation's attention in June. Williams said she called Christopher Meyer this morning and told him she had decided to terminate his employment.

Williams also announced that another officer, Clinton Swick, has been fired as well for making a series of offensive Facebook posts berating Muslims and encouraging violence against protesters.

The announcement at a press conference held at Phoenix Police headquarters today came on the heels of a press release issued just hours earlier announcing that Sergeant Daniel Beau Jones had been fired and remains under criminal investigation. Phoenix police have declined to say anything further about why Jones was fired or what he is being investigated for.

Williams made the decision to terminate these three officers and suspend a handful of others in the past several days. The chief did not mince words at the press conference today when she said that a disciplinary review board had actually recommended suspending Meyer for several weeks.

"The DRB recommended [Chris Meyer] receive a six-week, unpaid suspension. But the decision on discipline is mine," Williams said. “And after meeting with the officer ... personally and considering all the facts of the case, I notified him of my decision to terminate his employment. In this case, a 240-hour suspension is just not sufficient to reverse the adverse effects of his actions on our department and our community."

In June, cellphone footage of Meyer's explosive encounter with 22-year-old Dravon Ames, his pregnant fiancée, Iesha Harper, and their two young children made international headlines and prompted a deluge of criticism against the department. In the video, Meyer can be heard telling Ames he was going to "Put a fucking cap in your fucking head!"

Meyer's partner, who has yet to be identified, also held the family at gunpoint. But Williams said today that the officer has been given only a written reprimand because the DRB determined he de-escalated the situation when he holstered his gun upon seeing the person he had been pointing it at was a pregnant woman with a child, and tried to calm down Meyer, she said.

Regarding the Facebook posts, 72 Phoenix police employees were flagged for having potentially inappropriate posts. In June, hundreds of offensive Facebook posts from Phoenix police officers were made public by the Plain View Project, a database created by a team of Philadelphia attorneys in an effort to catalog bigotry and racism among police officers nationwide.

Posts from Phoenix police officers and sergeants joking about Muslim people using goats as sex slaves, shooting former President Obama in the face, and killing protesters ignited backlash and prompted Williams to launch an internal investigation.

In reviewing the posts, 60 of those cases rose to the level of documented supervisory coaching. The remaining 12 were placed on administrative assignments during the course of the investigation, Williams said.

One officer of the 12 was removed from the list because his posts had been made before the department had a social media policy. Another, Juan Hernandez, has managed to stall the disciplinary process by filing a lawsuit against the department.

Though Chief Williams and spokesperson Sergeant Tommy Thompson declined to name all of the officers involved, citing the potential appeals process, Williams did say they have decided to terminate Swick. Asked why she decided to fire Swick in particular, Williams said it was due to the "number of posts, the type of posts, and the erosion of trust on the community."

Besides Swick, one employee received a 40-hour suspension, four received a 24-hour suspension, and four received an eight-hour suspension. 

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