Cincinnati officer to face suspension after Tasing 11-year-old 

Published: Wednesday, September 05, 2018 @ 2:00 AM
Updated: Tuesday, October 30, 2018 @ 8:10 PM


Christopher Furlong/Getty Images
(Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)

UPDATE Oct. 30: Officer Kevin Brown will face a seven-day suspension and use-of-force training after stunning 11-year-old Donesha Gowdy for shoplifting at a Cincinnati Kroger in August, Cincinnati Police chief Eliot Isaac announced today, our partners at WCPO report.

"We take these matters very seriously and are extremely concerned when force is used by one of our officers on a child of this age," Isaac said in a news release.

Brown tased Gowdy for shoplifting from the Kenard Avenue Kroger on Aug. 6 when she didn’t listen to his command to stop. The probes struck her at the base of her spine and between her shoulder blades.

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Isaac promised "a very thorough review" of Brown's actions as well as the department’s use-of-force policies as they pertain to juvenile suspects. As of Tuesday, he had also authorized three reprimands, a forthcoming seven-day suspension of duty and additional use-of-force training to discipline Brown, who would be placed on an intervention plan with a supervisor, WCPO reports. 

Brown was reassigned to a position with the Telephone Crime Reporting Unit after the incident.

Cincinnati Mayor John Cranley issued an apology and a promise from Vice Mayor Christopher Smitherman to 

review the Cincinnati Police Department’s protocol on Tasers. At the time of the incident, the policy permitted officers to use a Taser on any person between the ages of 7 and 70, WCPO reports. 

The city of Cincinnati and Kroger agreed to pay the Gowdy family $240,000, according to a release from family attorney Al Gerhardstein. 

Donesha wrote the following apology to Kroger:

“I Donesha Gowdy is writing this letter to apologize to the Kroger company … to say I’m sorry for stealing from the store in will not do it again.”

FIRST REPORT Sept. 5: An internal use of force review found that the police officer who stunned an 11-year-old girl accused of shoplifting violated several Cincinnati Police Department rules in the incident, according to our partners at WCPO-TV.

PREVIOUS REPORT: 11-year-old Tasered by off-duty Cincinnati officer won’t be charged, mayor says 

Officer Kevin Brown was working an off-duty security detail at Kroger last month when he used a Taser on an 11-year-old girl who was accused of shoplifting.

Police Chief Eliot Isaac said Tuesday there are several "procedural violations against the officer involved."

According to a use of force review prepared by police, Brown violated the Cincinnati Police Department policies:

  • for activating body worn cameras after he used the Taser, about five minutes after he was alerted to the theft attempt
  • for use of force because he used the Taser without first making a warning about the impending Taser use
  • for use of force considering the severity of the crime and threat posed by the suspect, which in this case investigators said did not warrant Taser use
  • for expressing prejudice by making a comment about the lack of grocery stores in predominantly black communities

Police released the review and body camera video from the incident on Tuesday. One aspect of the video shows the 4-foot-11, 90-pound girl crying as firefighters remove the Taser barbs from her back, according to our media partners. 

Brown is also heard on camera making a comment that the review considered as expressing prejudice.

"This is why there aren't any grocery stores in the black community, because of all this going on," Brown told the girl, both of whom are African-American.

In an interview for the use of force review, Brown acknowledged that the 11-year-old did not appear to be a threat to himself or others. He told an investigator that his statement about grocery stores in black communities is supported by statistics and was not biased.

The 11-year-old took items like candy, beef jerky and infant clothing worth a total of $53.81, according to the use of force review. She was initially charged with theft and obstruction, but the charges were later dropped.

During a Law and Public Safety Committee meeting, Chief Isaac said he believes the police department's use of force policy is “very solid,” but there may be areas officials can “tweak.”

Brown will now face a pre-disciplinary hearing, according to Chief Isaac.

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