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Lawsuit for Police Brutality in Phoenix

Our firm has successfully pursued cases against police departments, city agencies, and police officers in matters involving police brutality or excessive force and are frequently contacted to evaluate these types of cases. When these cases appear in the news, Attorney Page Pate is often contacted by media outlets to provide an analysis of the situation and discuss the strength of a possible lawsuit.

In this case, police officers in the City of Phoenix, Arizona are receiving much criticism for their response to a shoplifting call involving a couple and their two small children. The couple’s 5 year old daughter accidentally left the store without paying for a doll. The police arrived and approached the family with guns drawn. The woman had a baby in her arms and is pregnant. The police violently scream and cuss at her repeatedly to put her hands up, but she can’t because she is holding the baby.

CNN interviewed Page Pate, who is recognized as constitutional and federal attorney, for an analysis of what happened and the potential case the family might have against the City of Phoenix. When discussing the officers’ response to a supposed shoplifting call, Page explains that “They completely overreacted. I mean, this is not a situation where police arrive on the scene, they think someone may be armed, there’s been a report of a violent crime, and armed robbery, a murder. This is a shoplifting call, and they arrive on the scene with what appears to be the intent to take these folks down. And when the people don’t immediately respond to commands, which seem unreasonable from the beginning, then they really go over the top. So I think it’s definitely excessive and really no justification, given the circumstances.”

Often, when people experience a situation in which the actions of law enforcement are excessive or damaging in some way, they will pursue lawsuits against the responsible parties. When asked about his opinion of the strength of the couples’ possible case, he says “Well, they have a case. I didn’t say $10 million. I mean, I think that number is certainly high. Normally, in a situation like this, where no one lost their life, fortunately there wasn’t shooting, the cops didn’t completely lose their mind and fire their weapons, I think $10 million is basically to grab the attention, perhaps, of people. Saying, “Look, this is serious and we’re gonna pursue it.” But to say that it’s worth $10 million. In this case, I think that’s excessive as well.”

TRANSCRIPT:

Christi: I want to tell you about this Arizona couple that plans to sue the City of Phoenix now, after officers pulled a gun on them and their two young children. Now, we’re gonna see this video together. I wanna warn you, this is hard to watch. There’s a lot of language in it, so you’re gonna hear a lot of bleeping. But take a look at what happened.

[00:00:20]

Officer: Get your [bleep] hands up. Get your [bleep] hands up. Get your [bleep] hands up.

Woman: Oh my God.

Officer: Get your hands up.

Woman: It don’t open. It don’t open.

Officer: Get your [bleep] hands up.

Woman: It don’t open.

Officer: I’m gonna [bleep] put a cap right in your [bleep] head. Get your [bleep] hands up.

Man: Who the [bleep] that man?

Woman: [inaudible 00:00:36]

Officer: Get them up.

Man 2: Police?

Man 3: Yeah.

Man 2: You recording it?

Man 3: Yeah, I’m recording it.

Man 2: All right.

Man: [inaudible 00:00:41]

Woman: [inaudible 00:00:42] kids.

Officer: Put your hands up.

Woman: I don’t…you have to open it.

Officer: I don’t give a [bleep].

Woman: [inaudible 00:00:44]

Officer: Put your hands up.

Woman: Don’t point it at my kids.

Officer: Hands up.

Woman: I can’t put my hands up. I have a [bleep] baby in my hands. I can’t. I’m pregnant.

[00:00:54]

Christi: So the couple said the officers approached their vehicle with guns drawn, after their young daughter accidentally walked out of a dollar store with a doll. The video shows a woman who’s five months pregnant struggling to comply with the officers’ commands. All this time, officers are heard in the video, as you heard there, they’re cursing at the couple, they’re making violent threats. So I want to discuss this with federal and constitutional attorney Page Pate. You just saw that video with us. What stood out to you, first of all?

Page: They completely overreacted. I mean, this is not a situation where police arrive on the scene, they think someone may be armed, there’s been a report of a violent crime, and armed robbery, a murder. This is a shoplifting call, and they arrive on the scene with what appears to be the intent to take these folks down. And when the people don’t immediately respond to commands, which seem unreasonable from the beginning, then they really go over the top. So I think it’s definitely excessive and really no justification, given the circumstances.

Christi: So the parents have a case for their $10 million, you think.

Page: Well, they have a case. I didn’t say $10 million. I mean, I think that number is certainly high. Normally, in a situation like this, where no one lost their life, fortunately there wasn’t shooting, the cops didn’t completely lose their mind and fire their weapons, I think $10 million is basically to grab the attention, perhaps, of people. Saying, “Look, this is serious and we’re gonna pursue it.” But to say that it’s worth $10 million. In this case, I think that’s excessive as well.

Christi: I only have a couple seconds left on this one, but what we’re seeing here is very different than what we saw in the police report. It was a very watered down…

Page: [inaudible 00:02:30]

Christi: …report, comparatively.

Page: This is what happens now that we have video. I mean, I can’t count the times I’ve been in court and I’ve questioned an officer about apprehending a suspect, and it’s always been, “I approached him in a calm demeanor. I asked him to politely get out of the car.” Now, we actually see what happens. And it is very different from the police reports.

Christi: All right.