The Orlando police officer who arrested two 6-year-old students at school on suspicion of misdemeanor battery charges last week has been fired.
Orlando Police Chief Orlando Rolón said Monday that the incident made him “sick to [his] stomach,” especially when he found out the children had been put in the back of a squad car.
“When I first learned about this, we were all appalled and we could not fathom the idea of a 6-year-old being put in the back of a police car,” Rolón said at a news conference. “It’s still shocking to us. … To have something like this happen was completely and totally a surprise to all of us.”
Department officials immediately suspended Turner and launched an investigation. Rolón explained that there’s a policy that “strictly prohibits” officers from arresting children under the age of 12. The police previously said that one of the children was 8 years old, but on Monday the chief corrected that mistake and said they are both 6.
Meralyn Kirkland rushed to the Juvenile Assessment Center when she found out her granddaughter had been arrested for battery.
“I asked them for her, and they told me she was currently in the process of being fingerprinted. And I think when they said fingerprinted is when it hit home to me. And I’m like, ‘Fingerprinted?’ And they said, Yes,’ and they escorted me into an office and on the desk in that office were two mugshot pictures of my 6-year-old granddaughter,” said Kirkland.
Chief Orlando Rolón said one of his top priorities is “the trust between the community and our officers and because of this incident that trust has been put in question.”
“On behalf of the entire Orlando Police Department, I apologize to the children involved and their families,” he said in a statement.
“As a grandfather, I can understand how traumatic this was for everyone involved.”
Rolón also said he issued a notice last week to remind officers that any juvenile arrests must be approved by a manager beforehand.