The city of Cincinnati has agreed to pay an 11-year-old girl $220,000 after she was tased in the back by a police officer who caught her shoplifting.
The incident starts back on Aug. 6
, when the girl, Donesha Gowdy, and her friends rode their bikes to the local Kroger to get snacks via shoplifting. The 11-year-old acknowledged that she had taken items before, had been caught and was warned. But coming from a family of 10 with no spare change for treats, Donesha was not thinking about that at the time, the Cincinnati Enquirer reports
So she tried taking some $53.81 worth of clothing, food and drinks.
As the girls were taking the items from the local Kroger, Cincinnati Police Officer Kevin Brown, who was at the Kroger monitoring shoplifting, caught them. He tried to stop the girl, but Donesha kept on walking away. That was when he pulled out his Taser and fired it at the 11-year-old’s back, knocking the 90-pound child to the ground.
Brown’s next comments were caught on his body camera which he only turned on after he deployed his taser.
“You know, sweetheart, this is why there’s no grocery stores in the Black community,” he told Donesha.
Both Brown and Donesha are Black.
Browns’ comment, compounded with the fact that he shot a Taser into the child’s back, a child whose only offense was shoplifting, sparked debate across the community.
At the end of it all, Cincinnati civil rights attorney Al Gerhardstein helped the family reach a $220,000 with the city, while Kroger will pay Donesha $20,000. That money, totaling $240,000 will be monitored by a probate court to ensure that it is used for the Donesha’s emotional care, according to the Enquirer.
An internal affairs investigation concluded that Brown had violated four police policies. His comment about grocery stores was flagged as prejudice. Then there was the fact that he did not turn on his body camera until after he deployed his Taser. He also did not warn Donesha that he was going to use his Taser – which is mandated by department policy. Lastly, the use of Taser – usually reserved to immobilize a person resisting arrest – was not warranted in the 11-year-old’s case. The department usually recommends taking note of the severity of the crime, and the risk posed to others if the suspect is not detained.
However, what discipline Brown will face has still not been decided by Police Chief Eliot Isaac who will have the final say.
As for Donesha ,who has since turned 12, she still thinks daily about the evening she got tased, and when she sees officers around her, in her neighborhood and at school, she is constantly reminded of what happened to her.
Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters refused to bring charges up against her after the incident, but still, the pre-teen expressed remorse, writing a letter to Kroger to apologize and to say “I’m sorry for stealing from the store in will not do it again”