An Orlando school resource officer lost his job after he arrested two six-year-old children at a Florida elementary school over trivial misbehavior. All charges against the children were dropped following public backlash.
Orlando Police Chief Orlando Rolon said on Monday that the officer behind the arrests had been fired, apologizing to the two children and their families and adding that the case made him “sick to [his] stomach.”
“It was clear today when I came into work that there was no other remedy than to terminate this officer,” Rolon said in a statement. “As a grandfather, I can understand how traumatic this was for everyone involved.”
The police chief added that he issued a “special notice” to the police force to “ensure this does not occur in the future.”
The two children were taken into custody separately by officer Dennis Turner last Thursday, though it is not clear exactly what prompted the two arrests. One child was processed at the local Juvenile Assessment Center before being released to a family member, while the other youth was brought back to her school without being processed.
Meralyn Kirkland, the second child’s grandmother, told WKMG-TV that the treatment was excessive, saying, “No 6-year-old child should be able to tell somebody that they had handcuffs on them.”
Kirkland said she was shocked to receive a call last Thursday from the Lucious and Emma Nixon Academy, where her granddaughter Kaia attends first grade, informing her of the child’s arrest.
“I said, ‘What do you mean, she was arrested?’ They said there was an incident and she kicked somebody and she’s being charged and she’s on her way,” Kirkland continued, explaining that Kaia suffers from a sleep condition that occasionally causes her to act out.
State Attorney Aramis Ayala confirmed earlier on Monday that her office would not pursue charges against the children and is working to clear their records. Both children, one of which has not been named, faced a battery charge.
“The criminal process ends here today. The children will not be prosecuted,” Ayala said. “I refuse to knowingly play any role in the school-to-prison pipeline.”
Reactions online and around the country were no less harsh, with the ACLU weighing in to slam the charges as “ridiculous” and “traumatizing.”
Another legal activist, Scott Hechinger of the Brooklyn Defender Services, condemned the arrests as “child torture.”
CHILD TORTURE. Arresting, cuffing, & fingerprinting a 6 year old. “No 6 y/o child should be able to tell somebody that they had handcuffs on them, were riding in the back of a police car & taken to a juvenile center to be fingerprinted, mug shot.” https://t.co/NaH7LoJ8er
— Scott Hechinger (@ScottHech) September 22, 2019
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