School resource officer fired after arresting 6-year-olds

PHOTO: Lucious and Emma Nixon Academy, a charter school in Orlando, Fla. PlayWFTV
WATCH Controversy over children’s arrests

A Florida school resource officer who arrested two 6-year-old students has been fired, according to Orlando Police Chief Orlando Rolon.

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After reviewing the facts of the case, Rolon said he had no "other remedy," but to terminate officer Dennis Turner.

"When we first learned about this, we were all appalled," Rolon said at the press conference. He said he could not fathom the idea of putting a scared child in the back of a police car.

"It’s still shocking to us," he said.

PHOTO: Officer Dennis Turner of the Orlando Police Department, handcuffed 6-year-old Kaia Rolle and transported her to the Juvenile Assessment Center in Orlando, Fla. WFTV
Officer Dennis Turner of the Orlando Police Department, handcuffed 6-year-old Kaia Rolle and transported her to the Juvenile Assessment Center in Orlando, Fla.

Earlier Monday, the Florid State Attorney's Office said it was not pursuing charges against the two children.

A grandmother of one of the 6-year-olds said her granddaughter was arrested after she kicked a staff member while having a temper tantrum on Sept. 19, according to Orlando ABC affiliate WFTV.

That type of behavior was not unexpected or out of character for her granddaughter, Meralyn Kirkland said, because the child suffers from sleep apnea.

The details of the other arrest are unclear and Rolon said Monday evening he could not comment on the specifics that led to the officer arresting either 6-year-old because both children are minors.

Turner, who put one of the children in zip ties and took them to the Juvenile Assessment Center, broke department policy by failing to get supervisor approval for arresting a child under the age of 12, Rolon said.

Kirkland told WFTV she picked up her 6-year-old granddaughter at the Juvenile Assessment Center after she was arrested for battery.

"I asked them for her, and they told me she was currently in 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," Kirkland told the station.

PHOTO: Lucious and Emma Nixon Academy, a charter school in Orlando, Fla. WFTV
Lucious and Emma Nixon Academy, a charter school in Orlando, Fla.

Rolon, speaking during a press conference Monday, said this type of incident is why there is mistrust toward the police department.

A "top priority is to earn and protect the trust between the community and the officers," Rolon said at the press conference. "Because of this incident, the trust has been put in question. I apologize to the children involved and their families."

"There will be an investigation that will continue to unfold," Rolon said

The Orlando Police Department initially suspended Turner before firing him Monday. Authorities also initially mistakenly identified the two students as 6 and 8 years old.