A Florida police officer was fired Monday after he arrested two young children in school last week, including a 6-year-old who “threw a tantrum” only because of an apparent medical condition, according to a relative and police.
Orlando Police Chief Orlando Rolón said in a statement that school resource officer Dennis Turner (pictured left) did not obtain the approval of a commanding officer before making the arrests last Thursday. Department policy requires such. He was initially suspended by the department but then was let go.
“The Orlando Police Department has a policy that addresses the arrest of a minor and our initial finding shows the policy was not followed,” Rolón said. “As a grandparent of three children less than 11 years old this is very concerning to me.”
The 6-year-old was charged with battery after she kicked someone at Lucious and Emma Nixon Academy, a K-5th grade charter school. Florida is one of a few states in the country that has no age requirement when it comes to arrests. According to the girl’s grandmother, her behavioral issues stem from sleep apnea.
Her arrest was halted by a supervisor and she was returned to school. According to her grandmother, her granddaughter was fingerprinted and even had her mug shot taken.
“They told us we had to wait a few minutes because [she] was being fingerprinted, and when she said finger printed it hit me like a ton of bricks,” Kirkland said. “No six 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”
Turner had served as an Orlando police officer for 23 years before retiring in 2018. In 1998, he was charged with aggravated child abuse in connection to an incident with his then 7-year-old son. In 2016, Turner was reprimanded for excessive force after he stunned a man five times with his taser.
The 8-year-old, who was arrested in a separate incident, was processed and later released to a relative. Both he and the 6-year-old will not be prosecuted according to Florida state attorney Aramis Ayala.
“I refuse to knowingly play any role in the school-to-prison pipeline at any age,” Ayala said. “These very young children are to be protected, nurtured and disciplined in a manner that does not rely on the criminal justice system to do it.”
Florida is the nation’s leader in juvenile arrests.
The story prompted massive outrage on social media.
PHOTO CREDIT: NBC News