Mayor: 11-year-old Tasered by off-duty Cincinnati police officer won’t be charged

Published: Wednesday, August 08, 2018 @ 1:56 AM
Updated: Wednesday, August 08, 2018 @ 11:03 PM

Chief promises investigation.

UPDATE @ 10:55 p.m.: Cincinnati Mayor John Cranley said he asked that the 11-year-old tasered by an off-duty city police officer not be criminally charged.

Tonight, the mayor’s office released the following statement:

“Tasing an 11-year old who posed no danger to the police is wrong. I’m sorry for the harm to her and her family. This evening I called and asked [Hamilton County] Prosecutor [Joe] Deters to drop charges against the girl. I’m happy to report that he did and I thank for him doing so.”

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PHOTO: Cincinnati Mayor John Cranley

UPDATE @ 9:02 p.m. (Aug. 8): No charge will be pursued against the 11-year-old girl tasered by a Cincinnati police officer working an off-duty detail at a grocery store, Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters said, according to Cincinnati media reports Wednesday. 

Because of the child's age, the police division should have checked with the prosecutor's office, Deters told The Cincinnati Enquirer. 

"I'm upset, I'm really upset about it," the girl's mother, Donna Gowdy, told WLWT.com. "The officer, he needs to be punished. I need justice from him. He was wrong." 

The child told WLWT.com she was with other children who dared her to steal some items from a Kroger store Monday evening. 

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"They bet me to walk out, so I walked out. The officer told me to stop, but I kept going," the child said, explaining the reason she didn't stop when the officer ordered it. "Because I was scared." 

This news organization is not identifying the child by name because she has not been charged. 

Sgt. Dan Hils, police union president, told our news partner WCPO-TV the officer is not allowed to work the detail or work the street until the investigation is completed. 

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

"We are saddened by this situation. Nothing is more important to us than the safety of our customers and associates. Our thoughts are with the family and child," the company said in a written statement.

"While this was an isolated situation, we share Police Chief [Eliot K.] Isaac's extreme concern and appreciate the Cincinnati Police Department's response. We want to understand what happened, why it happened, and we are assisting local law enforcement with their investigation." 

WCPO-TV reports that It's rare for local police to use Tasers on children, but it has happened. 

In February 2017, a 12-year-old girl was sitting in a booth at a Colerain Twp. skating rink, but wasn't wearing skates as was required by the rink. The manager said she gave him attitude, so he asked an off-duty deputy working security to escort her off the property. 

According to sheriff’s department records, the girl refused and then resisted the deputy and a second officer, striking a deputy in the face twice. Deputies took the girl to the ground. One of them used a Taser on her thigh after warning her she might be stunned with a Taser.

INITIAL REPORT

A police officer working an off-duty detail at a grocery store used a Taser on an 11-year-old girl Monday evening, according to our partners at WCPO.

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The incident prompted Cincinnati Police Chief Eliot K. Isaac to promise “a very thorough review” of his actions as well as the department’s use-of-force policies as they pertain to juvenile suspects.

“We are extremely concerned when force is used by one of our officers on a child of this age,” Isaac said in a news release.

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 being verbally warned, and the officer stunned her with the Taser. 

Saunders said that a Taser can be used on anyone between the ages of 7 to 70, according to Cincinnati Police Department procedure.

CPD 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 they "are cooperating with the police who are investigating the matter."

The officer’s name was not released. 

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