ORLANDO (CBSMiami) – Dennis Turner, an Orlando police officer, has been fired after he arrested two 6-year-old children, including handcuffs and mugshots.
Meralyn Kirkland said she was shocked when she got a call saying a school resource officer at Lucious and Emma Nixon Academy, an Orlando charter school, had arrested her granddaughter, 6-year-old Kaia Rolle, as the result of an in-school tantrum.
Kirkland said Rolle was acting out in class, a side effect of a lack of sleep from a medical condition, so she was sent to the office. While Rolle was there, a staff member grabbed her wrists in order to calm her down and that’s when she lashed out and kicked, according to Kirkland.
She said Officer Turner didn’t understand when she tried to explain Rolle’s behavior.
“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 said.
Rolle was taken in handcuffs to the Juvenile Assessment Center on a battery charge.
“How do you do that to a 6-year-old child and because she kicked somebody?” Kirkland asked.
Speaking about the arrest Friday, Kirkland struggled to hold back tears.
“A literal mug shot of a 6-year-old girl,” she said in disbelief.
Rolle tried to stay strong for her grandmother as she recalled the incident.
“I felt sad that my grandma was sad, and I really missed her,” she said.
Orlando Police Department officials said Rolle was one of two children Turner arrested that day, the other was a 6-year-old boy. The Orlando Sentinel reports police officials halted the booking process for the young boy before he made it to the juvenile detention center.
Per department policy, officers are required to seek approval from their watch commander before arresting anyone under 12, but according to the department, Turner didn’t do that.
“On behalf of the Orlando Police Department, I apologize to the children involved and their families,” said Orlando Police Chief Orlando Rolon, who announced Turner’s termination. “As a grandfather, I can only imagine how traumatic this was for everyone involved.”
While Kirkland now has to deal with the repercussions of the arrest, including an upcoming court date, she hopes no child has to experience what her granddaughter went through.
“No 6-year-old child should be able to tell somebody that they had handcuffs on them and they were riding in the back of a police car and taken to a juvenile center to be fingerprinted, mug shot,” Kirkland said.
Fortunately for the children, State Attorney Aramis Ayala stated at a press conference that her office would not prosecute the children. Ayala added that she is also working to clear their records.
“I refuse to knowingly play any role in the school-to-prison pipeline,” Ayala said. “The criminal process ends here today. The children will not be prosecuted.”
CBS News reached out to Turner but hasn’t heard back.
The Orlando Sentinel reports Turner was reprimanded for using excessive force in 2017.
He was also charged with child abuse in a case involving his own son in 1998. The Sentinel reports those charges were later dropped.