Meralyn Kirkland speaks to WKMG in Orlando on Friday about her 6-year-old granddaughter, Kaia, getting arrested at school. (Screengrab via YouTube/WKMG-TV)
Authorities say a Florida police officer has been fired and is being investigated after arresting two six-year-olds for separate incidents at their schools. CBS Orlando affiliate WKMG-TV reports that Officer Dennis Turner was previously suspended pending the outcome of an internal investigation by the Orlando Police Department.
The arrests were on unrelated misdemeanor charges, authorities said. All charges against the children have since been dropped. Police clarified Monday that both of the children were 6 after initially describing one of them as 8-years-old.
The department’s policy requires an officer to get the approval of a watch commander before arresting anyone under age 12. WKMG-TV said that didn’t happen during last Thursday’s arrests.
One of the children was processed at the Juvenile Assessment Center before being released to a family member. The child’s gender wasn’t released, nor was the reason for the arrest. The other 6-year-old was returned to her school from the juvenile center and wasn’t processed, after a transport officer found out approval wasn’t obtained.
Her grandmother, Meralyn Kirkland, told WKMG-TV she is outraged.
“No 6-year old child should be able to tell somebody that they had handcuffs on them,” Kirkland said.
She said her granddaughter, Kaia, is a first grader at Lucious and Emma Nixon Academy. Kirkland received a call Thursday saying her granddaughter was arrested by the school’s resource officer.
“I said, ‘What do you mean, she was arrested?’ They said there was an incident and she kicked somebody, and she’s being charged and she’s on her way,” Kirkland recalled.
Kirkland said her granddaughter was acting out in class, a side effect of a lack of sleep due to a medical condition.
“He says, ‘What medical condition?’ ‘She has a sleep disorder, sleep apnea,’ and he says, ‘Well, I have sleep apnea, and I don’t behave like that,”’ Kirkland said.
Kirkland insisted things should have never gone that far with her granddaughter.
In a press conference Monday, Orlando Police Chief Orlando Rolón said he was “sick to my stomach” after learning about what happened to the children and said the department has taken steps to ensure this doesn’t happen again.