Breaking News
More () »

Phoenix's Leading Local News: Weather, Traffic, Sports and more | Phoenix, Arizona | 12NEWS.com

'It's unacceptable': Phoenix Police Chief Jeri Williams addresses video creating national backlash

Phoenix Police Chief Jeri Williams joined Sunday Square Off to discuss the video that has put the department in negative light and what is being done about it.

Phoenix Police Chief Jeri Williams joined Team 12's Brahm Resnik on "Sunday Square Off" for a live interview discussing an incident that has put the department in the national spotlight. 

Last week, videos surfaced of officers allegedly threatening to shoot a black couple in front of their young children over a reported shoplifting incident from last month.

After the videos emerged and the couple involved, Dravon Ames and Iesha Harper, filed a $10 million notice of claim—a precursor to a lawsuit—against the city. 

On Sunday morning's "Sunday Square Off," Chief Williams said, "What we saw in that video isn't in keeping with good policing, it's unacceptable. I apologized to the family for the interaction and to be honest with you, I'm apologizing to the community too because that is not what should have happened in that circumstance."

Williams said there is more to the story, discussing conflicting information in the police reports and the statements from the family.

PREVIOUSLY: Police release report on shoplifting incident as family seeks $10M from Phoenix for alleged excessive force

You can see the full interview with Williams below:

Williams said the behavior displayed by officers in the video is "unacceptable" but said everyone is entitled to due process, which is why the department is making the investigation into this incident a top priority. 

"Having been a cop for 30 years, you kind of sit back and say, 'what was going on,'" Williams said. "That's what we need to address."

Once she saw the video, Williams said she immediately took the officers involved off patrol and reassigned them to a desk where they don't have interaction with people in the community while the investigation is ongoing.

12 News learned there are two main officers under investigation from the video. One seen in the video is a 20+ year police veteran. The other has been on the force for about a year. 

"I am with everyone in the community who is angry, who is outraged. I have officers out there who are angry and outraged to see this is what brush we are being painted with when I know we that we're better than that, I know this department is better than that, I know our community is better than that but at the end of the day I have to take responsibility and be accountable," Williams said.

Williams said the officers involved were not wearing body worn cameras because the department has not rolled out cameras to that precinct yet.

Williams said that due to the public attention on the incident, she plans to have this investigation completed in a much shorter time frame than normal.

WATCH: This video syncs the perspectives of two citizen-shot videos of the confrontation May 27 between Phoenix police and Dravon Ames and fiancee Iesha Harper outside a Phoenix apartment complex. The first voice heard shouting at the couple is that of Officer Christopher Meyer, a 24-year veteran. The officer who enters about 40 seconds later hasn't been identified by Phoenix police. A spokesman told 12 News the officer has been on the force about one year. WARNING: Some viewers might find the language in these videos offensive.

"I'm aware that people don't want to wait," Williams said. "It's going to shorten [the process] by months."

After the comments made by Williams over the weekend, the family held another press conference in response on Monday. 

"We've been aware of an apology from the mayor and the chief and honestly it really hasn't done anything to help us because it feels like it's a half apology," Ames said. 

Ames said he and his family are disappointed in the fact that the officers are still working. Williams said the officers were taken off patrol and assigned to desks.

"The officers are still working it just basically a slap in the face, it's like putting some lemon juice on an open wound," Ames said. "It's hurting us even more that they're still working and nothing's being done to the officers, nothing's being done for us as far as seeing any justice."

The incident in late May stemmed from a reported shoplifting incident at a Family Dollar store in the area of 32nd Street and McDowell Road. Employees had reported the incident after the couple's 4-year-old daughter Island allegedly stole a doll.

On Monday, police released three clips of redacted surveillance video from the store "which shows the activities of the individuals, while they were inside the store, which led to employees contacting the police."

According to a police report released Friday, an officer who was investigating an unrelated shoplifting incident in the area at the time followed Ames' car to a nearby apartment complex. 

The report contends that Ames fled from the Family Dollar store after an officer told them to stop, but the couple claims that they were stopped by police while taking their daughters to a babysitter at the apartment complex. 

Once the car was parked, the officer told the family to put their hands up but Ames allegedly started to yell at police that he did not do anything wrong and started reaching toward the center of the vehicle between the front seats.

RELATED: Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego announces community meeting amid backlash over shoplifting incident

According to the report, the officer drew his gun and continued to loudly give commands. Ames put his hands up above the steering wheel, but Harper, who was in the back of the car with her daughters, said, "I have my child in here, I am not putting my hands up."

Multiple bystanders took videos of the incident, in which an officer could be seen pointing a gun at a visibly pregnant Harper and the young girls, and one officer swept the legs of Ames as he was in handcuffs and pressed against the side of a police car.

Williams assigned an undisclosed number of unidentified police officers to desk jobs earlier this month while they were being investigated for possible misconduct. 

The misconduct investigation came after the Plain View Project, a database of public Facebook posts and comments made by current and former police officers, found posts packed with racist comments and imagery, endorsements of violence, and pro-Trump and anti-Obama memes.

The database identified 178 questionable Facebook posts over the last nine years, from 75 active-duty Phoenix cops. Ten of the officers, including a sergeant, produced 50% of those questionable posts. 

Phoenix police Officer Timothy Baiardi was charged with assault last month after surveillance video surfaced of him allegedly hitting a handcuffed shoplifting suspect in December. 

WARNING: This video contains language that may be offensive to some viewers.

RELATED: Phoenix cops' offensive Facebook posts lead to misconduct investigation

RELATED: Officer charged with assault disciplined for hitting handcuffed suspect before, records show