Aug. 9 (UPI) — The Cincinnati Police Department is investigating one of its officers who used a stun-gun on a 11-year-old girl who allegedly stole food from a grocery store.
On Monday, Officer Kevin Brown, 55, was working an off-duty security job at the store when he suspected a group of girls of stealing items from the store. When he confronted them, one of the girls kept walking away, so he drew his Taser and struck her in her back, police said in a statement. Both the officer and the girl are black.
The girl was taken to the hospital for injuries and charged with theft and obstruction of official business.
The incident sparked controversy in the Ohio city, raising questions about how police handle juveniles suspected of nonviolent crimes.
“There needs to be a complete investigation,” said Vice Mayor Christopher Smitherman, chairman of council’s Law and Public Safety Committee, The Cincinnati Enquirer reported. “It’s hard to understand why an 11-year-old would be Tased.”
Chief Eliot Isaac of the Cincinnati Police Department said Tuesday that his department is “extremely concerned” when officers use physical force against children.
“We will be taking a very thorough review of our policies as it relates to using force on juveniles as well as the propriety of the officer’s actions,” Isaac said.
The New York Times reported that the Cincinnati Police Department’s procedure manual states that police are allowed to use stun guns on children as young as 7 if necessary for self-defense or if the child is “actively resisting arrest.”
Smitherman has asked for a “comprehensive look at all of the Tasing episodes involving minor children” over the past two years and a “complete review of all Tasing policies.”
The girl’s other, Donna Gowdy, told the Enquirer that her daughter admitted to shoplifting snacks but said the officer overreacted.
“If you can’t restrain these little kids, you need to find a different job. She should have never got Tased,” Gowdy said.