Phoenix police officers fired in video, social media cases
PHOENIX (AP) — Two Phoenix police officers involved in separate incidents that drew national outrage, including one who pointed a gun and yelled profanities at a black family, will be fired, the chief of police said Tuesday.
“I expect more. You deserve more,” Chief Jeri Williams said at a news conference. “Unlike other professions, we don’t have a luxury of a do-over.”
Williams said 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. No one was charged in the case.
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.
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 video surfaced in June and prompted an immediate backlash. At a community meeting, Williams and Democratic Mayor Kate Gallego faced a crowd that demanded the officers be fired.
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.
The couple has since filed a $10 million claim against the city. They have a mediation hearing with the city scheduled for Dec. 18.
Williams on Tuesday also fired Det. Dave Swick over social media posts in an unrelated case. The Plain View Project found public posts from officers from several police departments nationwide that appeared to be bigoted or glorifying police brutality.
He was one of a dozen Phoenix officers who were reassigned while an internal investigation was conducted. 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.”
The other 11 officers all received suspensions between one and five days.
The Phoenix Law Enforcement Association, the officers’ union, said in a statement that the firings were not warranted because the disciplinary review board recommended suspensions.
City Councilman Sal DiCiccio, a police defender, criticized the firings. In a statement, he accused the city of giving in to public pressure.
“We cannot put politics above police and public safety.”