Phoenix Police Settlement Claims Cost $26 Million Over 10 Years

By Christina Estes
Published: Tuesday, October 22, 2019 - 5:05pm
Updated: Wednesday, October 23, 2019 - 1:05pm

Reporters surround couple
Christina Estes/KJZZ
Dravon Ames (left), Iesha Harper (center), and the Rev. Jarrett Maupin talk to reporters after the July 3, 2019, Phoenix City Council meeting.

A representative for the family in the bystander video that led to the firing of Phoenix police Officer Christopher Meyer said his termination was expected and "should not be considered a brave step."

In an email, the Rev. Jarrett Maupin said, "The Ames-Harper family has filed a $10 million notice of claim against the city of Phoenix. A settlement/mediation conference has been scheduled for Dec. 18 of this year."

The video, which gained national attention, showed the officer cursing and pointing his gun at a car occupied by Dravon Ames, his pregnant fiancee, Iesha Harper, and their two young daughters. Police had said the family was suspected of shoplifting and failed to obey commands.

In the past decade, Phoenix has paid tens of millions of dollars to settle claims against the city's police department.

The Phoenix Finance Department tracks settlements for cases involving death, injury, unlawful arrest and other allegations of wrongdoing against police. The city said records are maintained for 10 years unless special circumstances require they be kept longer.

For fiscal years 2007-2008 to 2017-2018, Phoenix paid more than $26 million to settle 191 claims. For fiscal years 2000-2001 to 2007-2008, Phoenix records show payments of more than $9 million to settle 13 claims.

The Finance Department tracks payments based on the year of the incident. For example, if someone filed a claim alleging misconduct that occurred in 2015 and the city council approved a settlement in 2019, the payment would show up in the 2015 claims.

For fiscal year 2018-2019 which ended June 30, 2019, Phoenix received 63 claims against the Police Department. No payments for allegations of misconduct in the fiscal year show up because nothing has been paid. Litigation or settlement negotiations could be underway.

The graph includes information from the Phoenix Finance Department covering July 1, 1999 to June 30, 2018.

  • The column marked “Number of Settlements” means the number of completely, paid out, closed settlements.
  • The column marked "Cost of Settlements” is the total dollar amount.
  • The column marked “Total Received” means the total number of claims during that fiscal year. This number includes claims submitted and claims settled.

police settlements graph
Justin Stabley/KJZZ
Data provided by Phoenix Finance Department.