US cops harass African-American family, Mayor apologizes

Screengrab of the Facebook video showing cops threatening the women of colour standing with her two kids. Photo: Facebook

The mayor of Phoenix apologised on Sunday after videos emerged showing police in the southwestern US city violently arresting a family of colour with young children.

The videos, shot when the arrest happened last month, show police using foul language while shouting at the family to get out of their car, and threatening to shoot them.

A woman later emerges from the vehicle with two young children. She hands them over to a bystander before being arrested.

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Separately, an officer is shown kicking the legs of another man who he is handcuffed against a police car.

“I, like many others, am sick over what I have seen in the video depicting Phoenix police interacting with a family and young children,” Mayor Kate Gallego wrote in a statement posted on Twitter.

Calling the officers actions “inappropriate” and “clearly unprofessional,” she wrote “There is no situation in which this behaviour is ever close to acceptable.”

“I am deeply sorry for what this family went through, and I apologise to our community,” she said.

In an appearance on the local ABC affiliate, Phoenix police chief Jeri Williams said the officers had responded to a report of shoplifting when they encountered the family.

“I am sorry this incident happened,” she said, adding that it was being investigated.

ABC reported that the family has filed a USD 10 million claim against the city, alleging civil rights violations.

The incident comes amid heightened scrutiny of law enforcement in the public in the United States following a series of high-profile killings of African Americans.

In response, departments across the country have announced reforms such as requiring officers to wear body cameras, which Gallego said Phoenix would speed up in the wake of the controversy.

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