Update (September 23, 2019): Dennis Turner, a Black elementary school resource officer who arrested 6-year-old Kaia Rolle, has been fired, CNN reported.
Rolle, who reportedly had a temper tantrum during class at Orlando’s Lucious and Emma Nixon Academy, was arrested by the officer and charged with battery after kicking a staff member who tried to restrain her.
According to Rolle’s grandmother, Meralyn Kirkland, she suffers from sleep apnea and experiences occasional adverse side effects, including tantrums.
When Kirkland tried to explain Rolle’s outburst to the officer, Turner reportedly responded, “Well I have sleep apnea, and I don’t behave like that.”
The Orlando Police Department that oversees the officer said the situation was not handled properly and was not approved by the watch commander.
In a statement provided to CNN, the department said another transport officer “verified approval was not obtained and the process for the six-year-old was stopped immediately. The child was returned to the school prior to being processed at the Juvenile Assessment Center.”
“As a grandparent of three children less than 11 years old, this is very concerning to me,” Rolon said. “Our department strives to deliver professional and courteous service.”
The school has not made a comment on the incident.
Original: The grandmother of an Orlando, Florida, first-grader is searching for answers following the strange arrest of the 6-year-old elementary student.
Meralyn Kirkland told local news outlet News Channel 8 her grandchild was unfairly punished and arrested for "throwing a tantrum." On September 19, Kaia Rolle and an 8-year-old student at Lucious and Emma Nixon Academy Charter School were placed in handcuffs, fingerprinted and arrested.
Kaia was charged with battery for her part in one of the separate incidents. The 8-year-old was detained at a Juvenile Assessment Center. The arrests have drawn national outrage and reignited discussions around over-policing of Black children in schools.
The charter school called Kirkland telling her Kaia allegedly kicked someone during the tantrum.
According to BuzzFeed News, school resource officer Dennis Turner did not follow the Orlando Police Department's policy regarding arrests of children under the age of 12 years old.
Policy dictates a school resource officer seek the approval of a watch commander for the arrest of any children under 12. Turner did not. The department has suspended the officer while an internal investigation is underway.
“What do you mean she was arrested, he said ‘there was an incident and she kicked somebody and she is being charged and she is on her way,'” Kirkland told News Channel 8.
When the concerned grandmother spoke to the officer, she was met with hostility. Kirkland explained the first-grader had a medical condition and was not prone to violent outbursts described by officials.
“She has a medical condition that we are working on getting resolved and he says, ‘what medical condition, she has a sleep disorder, sleep apnea,’ and he says, ‘well I have sleep apnea and I don’t behave like that,” she recalled.
Click Orlando reports Kaia was reportedly acting out in class due to the sleep condition. She was sent to the front office, and a school official held on to her arms in an effort to calm her. The kicking reportedly happened during that moment.
Kirkland had to wait several minutes to see her granddaughter because the department was fingerprinting her at the time of the retrieval.
“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,” she said.
Kaia was released from custody and allowed back to school, but the family still has to deal with an upcoming court date regarding the child's battery charge.
The Orlando Police Department said they are committed to serving the community more effectively. However, there is no word if the charge against Kaia will be dropped.
"As a grandparent of three children less than 11 years old this is very concerning to me," Chief Orlando Rolón said in a statement. "Our department strives to deliver professional and courteous service. My staff and I are committed to exceeding those standards and expectations."