An Orlando school resource officer was suspended while he faces an internal investigation after arresting two children — ages 6 and 8 — in unrelated incidents last week, without receiving previous approval from his department.
The Orlando Police Chief Orlando Rolón told WKMG-News 6 Officer Dennis Turner did not seek approval from a watch commander to arrest children under 12 years old, according to department policy.
OPD did not disclose the name of the school where the arrests happened because of the children’s ages, the Orlando Sentinel reported.
Though police did not say what led to the arrests, the grandmother of the 6-year-old told WKMG-News 6 that her granddaughter, Kaia Rolle, was acting out in response to a sleeping condition she suffers from. Kaia was taken to the principal’s office at the Lucious and Emma Nixon Academy charter school, where the child lashed out at a staff member, the station reported.
The child’s grandmother, Meralyn Kirkland, said Officer Turner was not convinced by her explanation.
“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 station.
“A literal mugshot of a 6-year-old,” she added.
The arrests caused outrage among some Florida lawmakers on social media, who said the arrests should not have happened.
“How is it acceptable to traumatize any child in this way?” Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith, D-Orlando tweeted.
WKMG reported that Kaia Rolle was taken into custody to the Juvenile Assessment Center on a battery charge, but her booking was “stopped immediately,” OPD said. Authorities booked the 8-year-old child at the Orange Regional Juvenile Center in Orlando and the child was later released, the Sentinel reported.