A Tempe, Arizona, father of three was holding his 1-year-old baby when cops shot him with three Tasers, which hit him at once.
Ivaughn Oakry was at his home when police officers arrived after the children’s mother called a non-emergency number reporting domestic violence, The Washington Post reports.
Tempe police officer, Ronald Kerzaya, entered Oakry’s apartment and within seconds of knocking on the door, he threatened to stun the man, according to newly released body-camera footage from the incident that occurred on the morning of June 15, the Arizona Republic reports.
On Tuesday (Nov. 5), the same day local advocacy groups provided the video footage to the Arizona Republic, the Tempe Police Department defended the officers and said they acted appropriately in subduing Oakry for the safety of the children.
The woman had left the home but indicated her three children were still inside with their father, The Washington Post reports.
“This incident has left the entire family, but especially the children, with physical health problems and severe emotional trauma,” Black Lives Matter-Phoenix Metro stated in a news release, according to the Arizona Republic.
Officers who responded to the call during the June incident described Oakry as being “verbally aggressive and non-compliant,” according to The Post.
In the body-camera footage, Kerzaya can be seen threatening Oakry with a stun gun.
During the confrontation, Oakry’s 1-year-old child went up to him and he bent down to pick up the baby. Kerzaya demanded he put the child down, a command Oakry ignored. He insisted to the officer that he had the right to hold his baby in his own home, the Arizona Republic reports.
Kerzaya and another officer then proceeded to use the stun gun on Oakry, who was still holding his baby, the video shows, according to the Arizona Republic.
Oakry could be seen falling forward with the toddler still in his arms as the electricity passed through his body and into the child, according to a news release sent on behalf of the family, the Arizona Republic reports.
Tempe police said in a statement that the child was not injured and there was no evidence the child was hit with the stun gun probes, the Arizona Republic reports.
During a news conference held at the Tempe Police Department on Tuesday (Nov. 5) in response to the criticism, Police Chief Sylvia Moir dismissed claims that the child was injured by the Tasers, the Arizona Republic reports.
“They deployed the Tasers striking the suspect, and only the suspect, resulting in the suspect falling on a large pile of soft clothing and the officers were then given an opportunity to safely secure the child and take the suspect into custody,” Moir said, according to the Arizona Republic.
“The child was never struck by the Tasers and Tasers do not conduct energy into a second person in this type of deployment,” she continued.
Moir added Tempe Fire Medical and Rescue examined the child, the female victim, who had returned during the confrontation, and the suspect at the scene and found no injuries on anyone. The mother then declined any additional medical examination for her child, Moir said, the Arizona Republic reports.
“These innocent children and their mother were placed in harm’s way by the suspect and any suggestion that anybody else but this suspect put people in harm’s way is irresponsible,” she said, according to the Arizona Republic.
Oakry’s attorney, his relatives and activists insist his family were victims of excessive force, reports The Washington Post.
“The Tempe Police Department recognizes that training for every encounter is challenging; however, we will continue to evaluate and improve tactics, communication, and de-escalation techniques to achieve the highest standards,” Tempe police spokeswoman Det. Natalie Barela said at the news conference, adding that no use of force violations occurred when Oakry was Tasered, the Arizona Republic reports.
“The Tempe Police Department is committed to accountability, transparency and strengthening how we engage with community members during use of force encounters,” Barela added.
Oakry intends to file a lawsuit against the city, and he is demanding the officers are fired, the Arizona Republic reports.
Zarra Teacola with Black Lives Matter-Phoenix Metro said during a separate news conference about the incident on Tuesday (Nov. 5), according to the Arizona Republic. “Most kids grow up thinking police are heroes, but the Tempe police are creating a generation of Black and Brown kids who are terrified of the police.”
Photo: Christopher Furlong/Getty Images