Donesha, an 11-year-old girl, was suspected of shoplifting food at a Kroger store Monday night. A Cincinnati off-duty police officer was working a security detail at Kroger that night. He suspected Donehsa, who is African-American, of shoplifting with a group of girls. Officer Kevin Brown, also African-American, said in a statement that he shocked Donesha with a Taser stun gun when she allegedly ignored him and walked away. Donesha later told NBC News that she was is no way being aggressive or trying to harm the officer. “It hit my back real fast and then I stopped, then I fell, and I was shaking, and I couldn’t really breathe”, Donesha commented about the Taser.
Cincinnati Police Chief Eliot K. Issac said in a statement, “We are extremely concerned when force is used by one of our officers on a child of this age. As a result, we will be taking a very thorough review of our policies as it relates to using force on juveniles as well as the propriety of the officers’ actions". Donesha was charged with theft and obstructing official business. The police statement states she was taken to a hospital after the Taser gun incident before being released to one of her parents.
According to the Cincinnati Police Department’s procedure manual, Tasers can be used on children as young as 7 years of age but not before considering the severity of the crime and risk of danger to others if not detained immediately. The manual clearly states that whenever possible the officer should give a verbal warning before using the Taser gun and obtain backup.
According to the station, an investigation was opened by Vice Mayor Christopher Smitherman and the officer, Kevin Brown, was placed on restricted duty. Mayor John Cranley released a statement Wednesday saying, “Tasing an 11-year old who posed no danger to the police is wrong. I'm sorry for the harm to her and her family”. Cranley also stated he asked prosecutors to drop charges against Donesha. They agreed. Donna Gowdy, the girl’s mother, told CNN “If you can't handle an 11-year-old child, then you really need to get off the police force. You here to protect these kids”.