A Phoenix police officer who pointed a gun and yelled profanities at a black family in May will be fired, the chief of police said Tuesday. Chief Jeri Williams said at a news conference she notified Officer Christopher Meyer of his termination.
Meyer was one of a group of officers seen on video drawing his gun and cursing at Iesha Harper, who was pregnant and holding a baby, and her fiance, Dravon Ames. Officers were responding to a complaint about shoplifting last May. When questioned, the couple said they were unaware their 4-year-old daughter had taken a doll from a store.
Police had said it went beyond shoplifting, and that the father refused to comply with commands several times.
Weeks after the incident, Ames and Harper
"I'm not able to sleep. I keep having pictures of guns pointed at my face," said Ames.
"I was injured a lot mentally and physically, me and my children," said Harper.
A disciplinary review board had recommended Meyer receive a six-week suspension.
"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," Williams said Tuesday.
"Unlike other professions, we don't have a luxury of a do-over," she said.
The video prompted an immediate backlash when it surfaced in June. At a separate news conference Tuesday, Ames and Harper said the officer's dismissal should have happened a lot sooner but were pleased nonetheless.
"I think I might be able to get a good night's rest for once knowing that he's fired, and it won't happen to no one else," Ames said. "I think it's a step in the right direction for change."
However, they both believe every officer involved should have been fired.
A second officer who was present will receive a reprimand for using foul language. But video shows he tried to calm the situation, Williams said.
The couple has filed a $10 million claim against the city.
Williams on Tuesday also fired Det. Dave Swick over social media posts in an unrelated case. Swick had posts that were highlighted for their focus on Muslims and blacks. Among them was a meme that suggested speeding drivers should take aim at protesters of police brutality in Ferguson, Missouri, where a young black man died in a police shooting in 2014.
"As a resident or a person in the community, you can express yourself as a part of your First Amendment right," Williams said. "But as a public servant, we wear this badge as a symbol of our commitment to a higher standard."