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Cincinnati police chief 'extremely concerned' by officer's use of Taser on 11-year-old girl

'It was sad,' girl says
Posted at 4:12 PM, Aug 07, 2018
and last updated 2018-08-08 15:28:39-04

A police officer working an off-duty detail at a grocery store used a Taser on an 11-year-old girl Monday evening.

Cincinnati Police Chief Eliot K. Isaac promised “a very thorough review” of his actions, as well as the department’s use-of-force policies as they pertain to juvenile suspects. He said he's "extremely concerned when force is used by one of our officers on a child of this age."

Vice Mayor Christopher Smitherman, along with the girl's mother, also say the policy needs to change.

The officer had been called to investigate reports of several young girls stealing items from the Kennard Avenue Kroger when he spotted the 11-year-old walking away with a backpack full of items, according to the release and Lt. Steve Saunders.

She refused to stop after the officer warned her, and then he stunned her with the Taser.

The girl, a fifth grader at Winton Hills Academy, is 4-foot-11 and 90 pounds, according to a police report. WCPO is not identifying her because she's a juvenile accused of a crime.

Her mother, Donna Gowdy, doesn't believe any child should be stunned with a Taser. Gowdy said her daughter's body still hurts from that night, and that she shivers when she goes to bed.

"If you can't run, then you need to get off the police force. If you can't handle an 11-year-old child, then you really need to get off the police force. You here to protect these kids," she said.

Medics at the scene checked on the girl, as did staff at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, Saunders said. She appeared healthy. Police charged her with theft and obstruction before releasing her to her parents.

Gowdy showed a hole on her daughter's back from where she was stunned.

"It was sad," the girl said Wednesday.

A Taser can be used on anyone between the ages of 7 to 70, according to Cincinnati Police Department procedure. Smitherman said Wednesday he'd introduce a motion to change the lower age limit to 12, rather than 7.

"We then have a policy that says if you’re 7, I can Tase you with 50,000 volts that, to me, doesn’t match our brand," he said.

Gowdy agreed the policy must change.

"I don’t want it to happen to nobody else’s kids, because it could’ve been worse. It could’ve been a gun," she said.

PD procedures on use of force state, "The TASER may be deployed on a suspect actively resisting arrest when there is probable cause to arrest the suspect, or to defend one’s self or another from active aggression."

The procedure also notes that officers should consider the severity of the crime, the level of suspicion with respect to the fleeing suspect, the risk of danger to others and the potential risk of secondary injury to the suspect due to their surroundings before using a Taser.

"An individual simply fleeing from an officer, absent additional justification, does not warrant the use of the TASER," CPD procedure states.

A Kroger spokesperson said the company is cooperating with the police investigation.