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After 6-Year-Old Girl Arrested for Tantrum at School, Angry Family Speaks Out: ‘A Literal Mugshot

People logo People 9/23/2019 KC Baker
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A 6-year-old Florida girl who went to school as usual on Thursday ended up in handcuffs in the back of a police car.

She was charged with acting up in school, leaving her family in shock and disbelief.

The school resource officer who arrested her – as well as another 8-year-old student that same day – allegedly without prior approval from a watch commander, is now under investigation, say officials.

“No 6-year-old child should be able to tell somebody that they had handcuffs on them and they were riding in a police car to be fingerprinted (and have a) mugshot (taken),” Meralyn Kirkland told local station WKMG about her granddaughter, Kaia Rolle.

“A literal mugshot of a 6-year-old girl,” Kirkland said on Friday, trying not to cry as she held Kaia, who, she explained, suffers from a medical condition that often leaves her sleep-deprived.

“I felt sad that my grandma was sad,” said Kaia, a light blue bow and barrette in her hair as she snuggled up to her grandmother on their living room couch.

“I really missed her,” she said.

When tears began spilling onto her grandmother’s cheeks as she told the station what happened to the child, Kaia said softly, “Don’t cry.”

Kaia’s ordeal unfolded on Thursday at Lucious and Emma Nixon Academy, a charter school in Orlando, when the little girl was sent to the main office because she was allegedly acting out in class, Kirkland told WKMG.

Kaia allegedly kicked a staff member who grabbed her wrists while trying to calm her down, Kirkland said.

That’s when the school resource officer called the little girl’s grandmother and told her he was arresting Kaia for battery, Kirkland says.

“I say, ‘What do you mean she was arrested?’” Kirkland told WKMG.

Meralyn Kirkland and granddaughter Kaia Rolle, 6 © WKMG-TV Meralyn Kirkland and granddaughter Kaia Rolle, 6 The person on the phone explained that there had been “an incident” in which Kaia allegedly “kicked somebody and she’s being charged,” Kirkland recounted.

Kirkland said she tried to explain why she believed Kaia acted out, saying “she has a medical condition we are working on getting resolved.”

But Officer Dennis Turner wasn’t having it, she told the outlet.

“He said, ‘What medical condition?’ I said, ‘She has a sleep disorder, sleep apnea,’ and he says, ‘Well, I have sleep apnea, and I don’t behave like that,'” Kirkland said.

Charged with battery, Kaia was taken to the Juvenile Assessment Center, WKMG reports.

“How do you do that to a 6-year-old child because she kicked somebody?” Kirkland asked.

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Kaia was returned to school before she was processed at the juvenile facility, police said, the Washington Post reports. It is unclear whether she had a mugshot taken or not.

The other 8-year-old student who was arrested Thursday and charged with a misdemeanor was processed and released to a relative that day, the Washington Post reports.

Kaia is scheduled to appear in court on Oct. 16, Kirkland told WKMG. If she fails to do so, a warrant will be issued for her arrest, she says.

The Orlando Police Department did not immediately respond to PEOPLE’s request for comment.

But Orlando Police Chief Orlando Rolón said in a statement to the Washington Post that the department is investigating the arrests of both children last week.

Both were charged with misdemeanors, though authorities did not release the names of either minor.

Officer Turner allegedly failed to follow the department’s juvenile arrest policy, which states that officers need approval from a supervisor before arresting a minor younger than 12.

Turner allegedly did not get the required approval. He has been suspended from his duties pending the outcome of an internal investigation, the Washington Post reports.

“As a grandparent of three children less than 11 years old this is very concerning to me,” Rolón said in a statement to the Washington Post. “Our Department strives to deliver professional and courteous service. My staff and I are committed to exceeding those standards and expectations.”

The school district did not immediately return PEOPLE’s call for comment.

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