At a convenience store in northern Cincinnati Monday, an off-duty police officer used a Taser on an 11-year-old girl whom he suspected of shoplifting, the Cincinnati Enquirer reports. According to the Cincinnati Police Department, that has been placed on "restricted duty" while an investigation is carried out.
Kevin Brown, the officer in question, was working off-duty as security detail at the Kroger marketplace in Spring Grove Village, according to the Enquirer. He was "investigating" several pre-teen girls suspected of shoplifting, and told one of them to stop walking. She ignored him, police said, at which point he shot her with his Taser, striking her in the back and sending her to the hospital.
"We are extremely concerned when force is used by one of our officers on a child of this age," Cincinnati Police Chief Eliot K. Isaac said in a statement. "As a result 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 officers' actions." Bustle has reached out to Cincinnati police regarding the status of the investigation.
Under CPD regulations, officers are allowed to use Tasers on suspects as young as 7 years old (Bustle has reached out to Cincinnati police for clarification on how officers determine the age of a juvenile before deciding to use a Taser). However, CPD rules also state that "an individual simply fleeing from an officer, absent additional justification, does not warrant the use of the TASER."
"The TASER may be deployed on a suspect actively resisting arrest when there is probable cause to arrest the suspect, or to defend one’s self or another from active aggression," the CPD's use-of-force guidelines reads. It goes on to say that officers, when contemplating using a Taser, must consider several factors: "The severity of the crime at issue," "the level of suspicion with respect to the fleeing suspect," "the risk of danger posed to others if the suspect is not promptly apprehended," and "the potential risk of secondary injury to the suspect due to environmental conditions."
The girl in question was sent to Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center and charged with theft and obstructing official business, the Inquirer reports. Donna Gowdy, the girl's mother, told the Inquirer that she feels "sad" and "disappointed in the system." (Update: According to Mayor John Cranley, all charges against the 11-year-old girl have been dropped.)
"If you can't restrain these little kids, you need to find a different job," Gowdy said. "She should have never got Tased." She added that her daughter, who is currently in her custody, has been complaining of back pain and having trouble sleeping since getting Tased.
Cincinnati police said that the girl will appear in court "in the near future;" however, court administrator Kevin Hardman told the Washington Post that he doesn't see any records of charges filed against an 11-year-old girl.
Vice Mayor Christopher Smitherman, chairman of the Cincinnati City Council’s law and public safety committee, demanded answers.
"There needs to be a complete investigation," Smitherman said, according to the Inquirer. "It's hard to understand why an 11-year-old would be tased. I expect answers in 24 hours."
Kroger also addressed the incident, saying in a statement that the grocery chain is "saddened by this situation."
“Nothing is more important to us than the safety of our customers and associates," the company said. "Our thoughts are with the family and child.”