Cincinnati police are investigating after an officer used a Taser on an 11-year-old girl earlier this week. (WXIX)
File photo of a Taser. (Source: Wikipedia Commons, Junglecat)
CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) -
Cincinnati police are investigating one of their officers and placed him on restricted duty after he shocked an 11-year-old girl with a Taser stun gun earlier this week.
Mayor John Cranley announced late Wednesday charges against the girl have been dropped at his request.
“Tasing an 11-year old who posed no danger to the police is wrong. I’m sorry for the harm to her and her family," the mayor said in a statement late Wednesday.
"This evening I called and asked Prosecutor (Joe) Deters to drop charges against the girl. I’m happy to report that he did," said Cranley.
Deters told FOX19 NOW late Wednesday: "I am not pursuing criminal charges against an 11-year-year-old who committed a low-level misdemeanor who was Tased in the back. We are done with it. The city can deal with the officer administratively."
The girl was shocked by a Taser Monday around 9:30 p.m. at a Spring Grove Kroger.
Officer Kevin Brown was working off-duty at the store when he says he approached several juvenile females stealing snacks, police said.
Brown deployed his Taser and hit an 11-year-old in the back, police said, after she ignored his commands to stop and walked away.
The NAACP is demanding the city review its Taser policy.
"This use of force was inappropriate and unreasonable. The Cincinnati NAACP demands that the taser policy be reviewed expeditiously and that a directive be issued by the Chief immediately which requires all command staff to revisit and instruct the officers in their divisions on taser policy and proper use," their statement reads.
The incident has put Cincinnati and its police department in the national spotlight.
The story was picked up by media outlets coast-to-coast including Time magazine, the Washington Post and Daily Beast ("Cop Tased Girl, 11, Suspected of Stealing Food From Grocery").
The girl's mother, Donna Gowdy, admitted in an interview Wednesday afternoon that her daughter was wrong.
“She took some things which she shouldn’t have done, but at the same time, she didn’t have to get treated the way she did for taking those things, she’s only 11 years old," Gowdy said.
“I don’t believe she gave him any force for him to do that because that’s what Tasers are for. They’re for when he’s getting attacked or when somebody’s got something that’s going to harm him. I don’t believe my 11-year-old harmed him in no fact or any shape or form.
Police said they were unaware of any injuries the girl may have suffered.
She was arrested and charged with theft and obstructing official business, according to police.
The officer's actions are justified, according to police policy.
The Cincinnati Police Department's policy on use of force reads, in part: "Officers should avoid using the Taser on obviously pregnant females and those individuals under the age of 7 or over the age of 70 due to the potential for these individuals to fall when incapacitated by the Taser."
Cincinnati Police Chief Eliot Isaac released a statement Tuesday night in response to multiple media requests about the incident.
He said the department was conducting a "very thorough review" of their policies and their use of force on juveniles, as well as the officer's actions.
“We are extremely concerned when force is used by one of our officers on a child of this age," Isaac's statement reads.
Police officials said the officer tried to activate his body camera, but was unable to.
It's not clear why.
Police are seeking video of the incident from Kroger, FOX19 NOW has learned.
The officer has been put on restricted duty during the investigation.
Vice Mayor Chris Smitherman immediately called for a complete review of the incident and changes to police policy.
He said he wants to raise the age limit from 7 to 12 years old.
Smitherman, who is the chairman of Cincinnati City Council's Law & Public Safety Committee, also requested a review of each time a police officer shocked anyone under the age of 18 with a Taser over the past two years.
The police union president, Sgt. Dan Hils, said city leaders should hold off on changing police policy for Tasings until the investigation is complete.
Hils also defended the officer.
"Just imagine this, imagine if the officer put hands on this juvenile suspect and an injury would have resulted. What would the community be saying now? So you are damned if you do or damned if you don't."