Taser used on 11-year-old: 'This is a little bitty girl,' mother says
CINCINNATI - Cincinnati police are investigating after an officer used a Taser on an 11-year-old girl earlier this week. The girl's mother says she would rather the officer have grabbed her daughter by the arm.
Donna Gowdy called the incident between officer Kevin Brown and her young daughter scary and hurtful.
"I'm sure that big man could have done better than that. I would have preferred her grabbed her and held her up. That would show that you really wanted to catch her," said Gowdy.
Cincinnati police say they are investigating Brown after he used a Taser on the girl Monday. But according to department policy, the officer was in the right.
Police say Brown was working off-duty at a Spring Grove Kroger around 9:30 p.m. when he says he approached several juvenile females stealing. The 11-year-old victim ignored Brown and continued to walk away, ignoring several commands to stop, police say. That's when Brown deployed his Taser, hitting the young girl in the back.
Gowdy says she feels like there could have been a different way to apprehend her daughter rather than use a Taser.
"I don't believe she gave him any force for him to do that because that's what Tasers are for," said Gowdy. "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."
Gowdy didn't excuse her daughter for stealing, but said she doesn't agree with how her 11-year-old was treated.
"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." said Gowdy.
The girl was placed into custody and charged with theft and obstructing official business, police say. She was evaluated at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center then released into her parents' custody.
Gowdy says she received a call from police telling her what happened before they came to get her. She says she doesn't have any means of transportation so officers had to take her to her daughter.
"It was scary, it was hurtful, a whole lot of thoughts were going through my head when I heard she got tased and fell on her face then turned around, she's shaking. That was not fair. That's not how you do things, that's not how you treat kids." said Gowdy. "If I can't abuse my kids, ain't nobody else going to do that," said Gowdy.
She was still angry about Monday's incident Wednesday afternoon, saying she wished she would have had the chance to tell Brown what she wanted to say to his face.
"I was hoping that the police officer was there because I had some words to say to him," said Gowdy. "Because it would have made me feel better to get what I had to say out to his face. Because he shot my baby in her back."
Police say the girl had a backpack full of food and resisted arrest, but Gowdy says her daughter is young, small, and not a threat to officers.
According to the police department's website, the officer's actions were justified. 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."
Gowdy says Brown should have run after her daughter instead of using his Taser.
Though some felt the use of a Taser on the girl was too much, others at a police-hosted event argued that it was a harsh lesson for the child to learn, adding that officers must always protect themselves.
"It's difficult to arrest or detain someone who is determined to get away. On TV they make it look easy. Steven Seagal does his thing but in realty it's hard," said former Cincinnati Police Officer Gregory Crowell.
Those backing Brown's actions made their comments during the Cincinnati Police Department's National Night Out event, which is a community event hosted to bring police and neighborhoods together.
"It's important that children are taught the consequences of doing wrong things." said Evanston Community Council member Anzora Adkins.
Cincinnati Police Chief Eliot Isaac released a statement Tuesday saying 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 said.
Police say Brown tried to activate his body camera but could not properly turn it on. Brown is currently on restricted duty until the investigation is completed.
Vice Mayor Chris Smitherman is calling for a complete investigation.
Police say they are unaware of any injuries the girl may have suffered.
She will appear in Hamilton County Juvenile Court in the near future.
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