Lawmakers in Cincinnati are outraged after a veteran police officer used a taser stun gun on an 11-year-old Black girl who was suspected of shoplifting.
Cincinnati Police Chief Eliot Isaac said he has launched an internal investigation after the episode popped off at around 9:30 p.m. Monday at a Kroger in Cincinnati.
Authorities say off-duty officer Kevin Brown suspected the girl in question, who was with friends, was using a backpack to shoplift when he approached her. According to CBS affiliate WKRC, police say the girl resisted and fled before she was shocked. When police say the girl resisted arrest, she simply refused to stop walking when the officer told her to. After reportedly barking the command to stop, he employed the taser on the girl.
The girl was taken to the hospital for observation and treatment before being released into the custody of her mother.
Cincinnati Police Chief Eliot Isaac has opened an investigation. However, according to the department’s policy, Tasers can be used on people who are at least 7-years-old and up to 70.
“An individual simply fleeing from an officer, absent additional justification, does not warrant the use of the TASER,” the Cincinnati Police Department manual states. “The TASER may be deployed on a suspect actively resisting arrest when there is probable cause to arrest the suspect.”
This 11-year-old girl stands 4-feet, 11-inches and weighs 90 pounds, USA Today states.
After the media checked on departmental policies from around the country, they found that Cincinnati’s policy is unusual. Tasering the girl in the back is prohibited if he had worked for the Chicago Police Department, as one example. That city’s force discourages officers from shocking people who are fleeing or vulnerable to injury, according to a policy change announced in 2017, the Chicago Tribune reported, last year.
“We are extremely concerned when force is used by one of our officers on a child of this age,” Isaac said in a statement, according to WKRC. “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.”
Vice Mayor Christopher Smitherman says there should be a “complete investigation.”
“We’re still waiting on bits and pieces of information, but I could see no reason … why an 11-year-old child was tasered, given the circumstances, for shoplifting,” Cincinnati City Councilmember Jeff Pastor told WLWT-TV.
UPDATE: The girl admitted to committing theft at the Cincinnati Kroger. Despite that, the charges have been dropped against her.