A Florida couple who allegedly tasered a 13-year-old boy in their care to discipline him have been charged with child abuse, Tampa police said.
Christopher Lewis, 22, and Deonijhane "Amy" Menifield, 19, were arrested earlier this week, Tampa police spokeswoman Janelle McGregor said. She said Lewis was a relative of the victim, a 13-year-old boy whose name is not being released for confidentiality reasons, and was taking care of him.
Lewis had bought the stun gun about a week before the arrest, police said. "Since that time, both suspects have been using the stun gun as a form of discipline against the victim," according to a police statement.
"The 13-year-old boy told one of the employees at his school what was going on, and the employee called the police," McGregor said."We noticed visible marks on the boy that were consistent with his story." The teenager had been tasered on his upper thigh, cops said.
Lewis and Menifield were arrested at their Tampa home on Tuesday and were both charged with child abuse. Lewis also faces charges of carrying a concealed weapon. Police said that when they arrested him, he was carrying a 12-inch hunting knife in his jacket.
A neighbor, Frances Helms, told ABC affiliate WFTS-TV that she watches the victim and saw the marks on the boy's arms this week. "It looked like a burn mark," said Helms.
"It's terrible, I would never treat a son of mine like that. It shouldn't be that way," she said.
Lewis told the station the teenager was his brother and denied using the stun gun on him. Police would not confirm the exact relationship between Lewis and the child.
Stun guns, originally developed for use by police, have been abused by private citizens in other recent incidents around the country. Last year in New Hampshire a couple were charged with using a stun gun on their three children, and in Jacksonville, Fla., a mother was charged with battery after she zapped a football coach with a stun gun during an argument.
It is legal in the state of Florida for ordinary citizens to possess stun guns, according to Deputy Dave Burney of the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office, as long as the guns are hand-held and do not have a "projectile device," which only police can use.