Police officers in Pierre, South Dakota have been accused of tasering an 8-year-old girl. They were responding to a call in which they were informed a child was attempting to commit suicide. She had supposedly already wounded herself in her leg with a knife. When they arrived, she had the weapon up against her chest. They ordered her to put it down, and she refused to obey their commands.
One of the three responding officers approached the girl but had to stop when she aimed the knife in his direction. But she then moved the weapon back to her own chest, the police reported.
Next another officer on scene pulled out his Taser, and with the prongs set, he hit the child in the stomach and chest. Paramedics were soon to arrive and examined the girl. She was taken to a near-by hospital where she was put on a 24-hour suicide watch.
The incident is being reviewed by police officials, but the unnamed officer is still working at his position on the force. It was explained that being tasered was the slightest forceful way that they were able to get the girl under any type of control.
Most people think it might be difficult to envision any state of affairs where a young child would have to have a Taser used on him or her but police feel that the officer might have actually saved the girl’s life this night this past week.
The girl’s father, Bobby Jones, feels differently. He stated that Tasers should be used only on adults and not children. He said the police should have used some other means to subdue her. The child did not suffer any prolonged injuries but did endure “a lot of pain” stated her mother, Dawn Stenstrom. Taser prongs are made to pass electric current through the body’s muscles basically shocking it. Therefore this temporarily stops the body from moving.
The 8 year-old left the hospital the next morning following an evaluation and they did not even keep her the full 24 hours. Jones explained she was just acting up, but that her actions got her “tased” by the police.
A professor at the University of Illinois, George Conner, is a police trainer who studies the use of force by police officers. He was stunned when he heard the Taser was used on such a young child. He said it was very difficult to see any type of situation where a police office would need to be using a Taser on an 8-year-old. He also added that each circumstance was different but that makes it even more important for all police departments to have firm courses of action on when to use this type of force.
In Pierre, which is the capital of SD, police officers have used Tasers at least six times during last year and they have use it three this year so far, but they have never used it on a child at such a young age.
Jones and Stenstrom are angry about their daughter and said that the officer should be disciplined in some way. They believe there was no reason police should have tased an 8-year-old girl. They are also considering bringing a suit against the entire police department.
“Something has to happen here,” Jones said. “This is wrong, no matter how they cut it.”
Written by: Kimberly Ruble