The family claims they weren't aware their daughter had taken the doll until they were in their car and on their way to a nearby apartment complex where their babysitter lived. That's when they said a police car silently pulled up behind them and an officer went up to Ames and allegedly pointed a gun at him.
According to the suit, Ames was pulled out of the car, kicked in the right leg and punched in the back — all while Harper, who is pregnant, and her 4-year-old and 1-year-old daughter remained in the car. The officer reportedly also pointed his gun at Harper and her children.
"We're talking about a little doll that's worth maybe $5 and the horrors that came from the overreaction to that," former Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne, who is representing the family.
Ames and Harper said they were threatened and handcuffed. They said the incident occurred May 29, though police contend it happened on May 27.
The Phoenix Police Department said it was opening an investigation after partial footage of the incident was released by a bystander. The family says the video does not include the first five to 10 minutes of the encounter. No arrests were made nor were charges filed, though Ames says his car was impounded and that the injuries he sustained have made him unable to work.
Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego issued a statement calling the officer's conduct as seen in the footage "completely inappropriate and clearly unprofessional." Gallego has scheduled a community meeting to take place Tuesday.
"After this, me and my daughters will never be the same anymore or feel the same for police because it seems like every police is out for blood or something. We wasn't really doing anything," Harper said during a press conference.
The Family Dollar Store declined to press charges after the doll was returned. Officers were reportedly at the store to investigate an unrelated shoplifting incident.