Off-duty cop Kevin Brown, who works as a security officer at Kroger in Cincinnati, accused an 11-year-old girl of shoplifting food, and shot her in the back with a taser when she didn’t stop walking away from him.
The girl, Donesha Gowdy, told NBC News that she was not aggressive toward the officer.
“It hit my back real fast and then I stopped, then I fell and I was shaking and I couldn’t really breathe,” she said of the Taser. “It’s just like you’re passing out, but you’re shaking.”
Donna Gowdy, the child’s mother, said: “If you can’t run [or] can’t handle an 11-year-old child, then you really need to get off the police force. You [are] here to protect these kids.”
“It’s what we call the ‘lazy cop syndrome,’” Geoffrey Alpert, an expert on police training at the University of South Carolina, told Vox. “Sometimes, cops go to Tasers too early and too often.”
Chief Eliot Isaac of the Cincinnati Police Department, said in a statement,: “We are extremely concerned when force is used by one of our officers on a child of this age. We will be taking a very thorough review of our policies, as it relates to using force on juveniles, as well as the propriety of the officer’s actions.”
Ohio law does not offer guidance to officers on Taser use. Departments are individually responsible for creating their own policy, said Jill Del Greco, a spokeswoman for the Ohio attorney general’s office. The officer has been put on desk duty.
The National Institute of Justice says: “There is no single, universally agreed-upon definition of use of force.”
The International Association of Chiefs of Police has described use of force as the “amount of effort required by police to compel compliance by an unwilling subject.”
The Cincinnati department has been under fire for the overuse of tasers in several other incidents, including a Black teen in April, and two unarmed Black men last year. Politicians called the action, “horrible judgement.”
The fifth grader was arrested for theft and obstructing official business, and was taken to a local hospital for evaluation. She was later released to her mother, and will go before a juvenile court.