The sobbing started after she spotted the zip-ties.
“What are those for?” Kaia Rolle, 6, asked the two police officers standing over her in the teacher’s office in Orlando, Fla.
“Come over here, honey. It’s not going to hurt,” a second officer told the girl.
She started crying.
“Don’t! I don’t want handcuffs on!” Rolle sobbed. “Give me a second chance!”
The Orlando Police Department has denounced harrowing footage of two officers arresting six-year-old Rolle at a charter school in Florida last September, amid backlash over the incident. The department said Tuesday that it has wiped the girl’s arrest record and effectively fired Turner, the reserve officer who can be heard boasting about his “youngest” arrest in his body-cam video.
“As a grandfather myself, I understand how traumatic this incident was for the children and everyone involved,” Orlando police Chief Orlando Rolon said in a statement on Tuesday. “One of my top priorities is the trust between the community and officers. Because of this incident … that trust was put into question.”
Rolle was apprehended on Sept. 19, 2019, after police were called to the Lucious and Emma Nixon Academy charter school in Orlando. Officers arrested the six-year-old for battery after she allegedly lashed out at multiple staff members, local station WPTV reports.
The school says the incident began that morning after Rolle started “kicking and screaming” when staff wouldn’t let her wear her sunglasses.
“Kaia became aggressive, hitting me with her hands in the chest and stomach area,” the assistant principal said in a statement obtained by CNN. “I restrained her by holding her forearms.”
It’s unclear when the school resource officer stepped in or who called police, but Rolle appears to be sitting calmly when officers arrive, the video shows.
“Never did anyone within our organization request or direct the School Resource Officer to arrest this student,” the school said in a statement last September.
The arrest prompted anger and frustration from Rolle’s family, especially after their lawyer obtained the body-cam footage from police. The video has since been published through Storyful.
“How do you do that to a six-year-old child and because she kicked somebody?” Rolle’s grandmother, Meralyn Kirkland, told ClickOrlando last September.
In the video, Turner and his partner can be seen restraining the girl, leading her out of the school and lifting her into the back seat of their police cruiser. She cries and pleads with them to let her go throughout the ordeal.
The footage also shows Turner heading back into the school after the arrest to talk to a handful of staffers.
“The restraints, are they necessary?” one woman asks Turner.
“Yes,” he says. “And if she was bigger she would have been wearing handcuffs.”
Turner goes on to describe the time he arrested a seven-year-old boy for stealing.
“Sssssssix thousand people I’ve arrested over 28 years,” he tells the staff, dragging out the “S” sound as he speaks. “A lot of people. Seven is the youngest. She’s eight?”
“Six,” a staffer says in the video.
“She’s six? Now she has broken a record. Today she broke the record.”
Turner also arrested a six-year-old boy at another school on that same day, officials have said. In that instance, Turner’s superiors stepped in and the boy’s arrest was not fully processed, the Associated Press reports.
Police Chief Rolon says he immediately suspended Turner after learning of the girl’s arrest last September. Rolon says he revoked Turner’s reserve status on Sept. 23, “ending his ability to work as a police officer with the Orlando Police Department.”
Rolon says he’s added new measures to make sure such an incident doesn’t happen again, including mandatory approvals that must be obtained before an officer can arrest a child under age 12.
The police chief says he requested an “administrative expunction” for the charges against Rolle — a move that effectively wipes the criminal incident from the girl’s record.
Last September, state attorney Aramis Ayala said her office would not pursue misdemeanour battery charges against the six-year-old.
“Very young children ought to be protected, nurtured and disciplined in a manner that does not rely on the criminal justice system,” she said.
The family’s law firm told CNN that Rolle has been “traumatized” by the incident.
“It’s tough for her to go to school,” a spokesperson for Smith & Eulo Law Firm said.
“Every time she sees an officer she freaks out.”
—With files from The Associated Press.
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