US & Canada

Ohio officer who Tasered girl 'violated department policy'

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Media captionOfficer under scrutiny for Tasing girl

A Cincinnati police officer who deployed a stun gun on a 11-year-old girl suspected of shoplifting violated department policy, investigators say.

Officer Kevin Brown, 55, was also heard on bodycam video telling the girl that actions like hers were "why there's no grocery stores in the black community".

His comment prompted an internal probe that found he violated four policies.

Officer Brown, 55, had been working as a theft prevention officer at a supermarket when the incident occurred.

Cincinnati police released bodycam footage of the 6 August arrest as part of a use of force report, showing the girl, who is African American, crying as Taser barbs are removed from her back.

"Quite frankly, I believe the officer violated our policy. I believe the use of force was unnecessary in this particular circumstance," said Police Chief Elliott Isaac, who will determine how Mr Brown will be punished after an internal department hearing.

The report found that Mr Brown, who is also African American, violated policies including making prejudiced comments, failing to turn on his body camera until after he used his Taser, failing to warn the girl before deploying his stun gun and using force when it was not necessary.

According to police guidelines, officers are required to use the least amount of physical force against a child.

The girl's family admitted she was shoplifting, according to the report. It found that she had about $50 (£38) worth of goods in her backpack when she was arrested.

Officer Brown, who has since been placed on restricted duties, defended his comments about grocery stores, arguing that he was supported by statistics and that his remarks were unbiased.

It marks the second time he has been accused of making inappropriate comments, according to the Cincinnati Enquirer. Nearly two years ago, Officer Brown was reportedly reprimanded for using a homophobic slur during a domestic violence incident.

Image copyright Police handout
Image caption Officer Kevin Brown is accused of violated police protocols

The officer said he told the girl to stop three times as she tried to leave the store, according to the report.

He deployed his stun gun, hitting her in the back from about 10ft (3m) away before walking her back into the store.

"You know what, sweetheart, this is why there's no grocery stores in the black community, because of all this going on," the officer is heard telling the girl.

"I didn't want to do this, but y'all knew what you were doing. Sweetheart, the last thing I want to do is Tase you like that," Mr Brown is heard saying in the supermarket manager's office.

Officials removed the barbs and she was taken to Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center.

She was charged with theft and obstructing official business, but the charges were later dropped.

Image copyright Police handout
Image caption The girl was placed in handcuffs after the arrest

The video has sparked outrage among local politicians and community leaders.

Councilman Wendell Young, a former police officer, said it appeared Mr Brown "polices the way he feels".

"I just don't know if you have room on the police department for people like this. This guy, from what I am hearing, has serious issues," he said.

The girl's mother Donna Gowdy told CBS that his job is "to protect these kids".

"If you can't handle an 11-year-old child, then you really need to get off the police force," she said.