Mother used stun gun to discipline small children

Kissimmee children punished with stun gun, police say

A Florida caregiver is being held in jail after allegedly using a stun gun on children under 10 to discipline them.

Letina Smith employed an hour-long punishment called “the electric chair” with shocks from a stun gun for the three children, according to police.

Smith defended herself by saying she only threatened her cousin’s kids with the electricity zapping between the stun-gun’s metal prongs, the Orlando Sentinel reports.

Police, however, took the children’s side and consequently charged Letina Smith late Thursday with three counts of child abuse after the two brothers and their sister gave similar accounts of receiving painful shocks.

The case came to police officials’ attention when an Osceola County school administrator reported the possible abuse when the sister begged her teacher at Sunrise Elementary School not to call her home and say she had misbehaved in class, according to the arrest report.

“(She) explained that the punishment was to get touched with a ‘taser,’” the report stated. “The electric chair consists of the child who is in trouble holding themselves … with their back on the wall and their legs forming a chair. They have to stay there for an hour and if they speak or move Letina will come up to them with the electrical weapon — the taser — and activate and touch them with it.”

Smith’s case is also under investigation  by the state Department of Children and Families Services. “I can only recall one other ( that involved a stun gun) but we do see all types of what we could consider ‘bizarre’ punishment,” DCF spokeswoman Carrie Proudfit wrote in an email to the Orlando Sentinel.

When police spoke to one of the brothers, the boy told them Smith put him in the “electric chair” Wednesday night. “(He) advised that it hurt very much and he was very afraid of it,” wrote an officer, who noted he did not see any marks where the boy said he had been shocked. “(He) advised that the electrical weapon was pink and made a loud clicking noise …and he can see the electricity touch the two points at the end.”

The third child corroborated the first two kids’ stories and also described punishment and Smith once shocked him after he fell asleep in her car.

“Letina touched him with the electrical weapon while it was activated and shocked him in the arm which woke him up,” the arrest report stated. “(He) advised it hurt badly.”

Officer Eric Longsworth said the three siblings were interviewed separately and “did not have a chance to corroborate a story while I was on the scene.” The children said Smith carried the stun gun either in her brown fanny pack and her blue purse.

Smith did not help herself when she was questioned. She told police she used a punishment she calls the “electric chair” and gave the same description the children gave of making the sit with their backs against the wall with their knees bent.

“She advised she does in fact have a pink electrical weapon,” the report stated. “Letina advised that she does not touch them with it however she will activate it and hold it within a few inches of them and threaten to touch them with it as a scare tactic.”

Smith remains held in the Osceola County Jail without bond on an out-of-county warrant as well as $3,000 bail on the child abuse charges. Her one previous arrest in Florida was in a 1997 Orlando felony fraud case when she pleaded guilty and adjudication was withheld, according to Florida Department of Law Enforcement records.

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