Orlando police officer Dennis Turner was fired Monday after Orlando Police Chief Orlando Rolon decided that his actions—arresting two 6-year-old children in separate incidents—were too unconscionable to drag out the process, CNN reports.
“It was clear today when I came into work that there was no other remedy than to terminate this officer,” Rolon said. “…On behalf of myself and the Orlando Police Department, I apologize to the children involved and their families.”
Initial reports claimed that one of the children arrested was 8-years old, but during a press conference on Monday, Rolon said both children were 6.
Neither child will be prosecuted for their alleged offenses, including a temper tantrum.
“I refuse to knowingly play any role in the school-to-prison pipeline at any age,” State Attorney Aramis Ayala said. “These very young children ought to be protected, nurtured and disciplined in a manner that does not rely on the criminal justice system to do it.”
An Orlando police officer has been suspended as he awaits the outcome of an internal investigation for his part in the arrest of an 8-year-old and a 6-year-old in two separate incidents last Thursday.
The two children were arrested on unrelated misdemeanor charges. Turner is facing scrutiny because, according to police, officers must get approval from a watch commander to arrest children under 12 years old. Turner apparently did not seek that approval.
“The first transport officer was not aware an approval was not obtained, and the 8-year-old was processed through the Juvenile Assessment Center. The child was released to a family member a short time later,” Orlando Police Chief Orlando Rolon said.
Officials said that the second transport officer confirmed that approval was not given in the processing of the 6-year-old, which was stopped immediately. The 6-year-old was allegedly returned to school before being processed at the Juvenile Assessment Center, the report notes.
“The Orlando Police Department has a policy that addresses the arrest of a minor, and our initial finding shows the policy was not followed. As a grandparent of three children less than 11 years old, this is very concerning to me. Our department strives to deliver professional and courteous service. My staff and I are committed to exceeding those standards and expectations,” Rolon said.
However, the grandmother of the 6-year-old girl told Click Orlando in an earlier report that her granddaughter was taken to the juvenile detention center on a battery charge and had her fingerprints and mugshot taken because of a tantrum she threw while at school.
Meralyn Kirkland, the child’s grandmother, said that she got a call from the school resource officer at Lucious and Emma Nixon Academy, a charter school, explaining that little Kaia Rolle had been arrested.
Kirkland said that Kaia had been acting out in class as a side effect from lack of sleep, due to sleep apnea. Kaia was sent to the office. While there, a staff member reportedly grabbed her wrists to get the young child to calm down, and Kaia kicked the staff member.
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Kirkland said she tried to explain her granddaughter’s condition to Turner, but he didn’t seem to understand.
“She has a medical condition that we are working on getting resolved, and 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 told the news site.
Kirkland was left struggling to understand how the incident lead to her granddaughter’s arrest.
“How do you do that to a 6-year-old child and because she kicked somebody?” Kirkland asked. “A literal mug shot of a 6-year-old girl.”
“No 6-year-old child should be able to tell somebody that they had handcuffs on them and they were riding in the back of a police car and taken to a juvenile center to be fingerprinted, mug shot,” the shocked grandmother added.