Florida Officer Fired After Arresting Two Six-Year-Old Children

A Florida police officer was fired following the arrest of two elementary school children, in separate incidents.

Orlando Police Chief Orlando Rolón said during a press conference on September 23 that a school resource officer, Dennis Turner, was fired from the department after he arrested two young students on September 19 without obtaining authorization from his superiors. Turner was suspended following the incident.

“Officer Turner was immediately suspended and as of this morning, Officer Turner is no longer employed by the Orlando Police Department. As Chief of Police, one of my top priorities is the trust between the community and our officers and because of this incident that trust has been put in question,” Rolón said during the press conference. “On behalf of myself and the entire Orlando Police Department, I apologize to the children involved and their families.”

“As a grandfather, I can understand how traumatic this was for everyone involved,” he continued.

In an interview with WFLA, one of the six-year-old’s grandmother, Meralyn Kirkland, said the child was charged with battery after she kicked someone at her school at Lucious and Emma Nixon Academy Charter School.

“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,” Kirkland told the news station about her interaction with Turner.

Kirkland said her granddaughter, Kaia, was arrested and taken to a juvenile detention center where she was handcuffed, fingerprinted and had a mugshot taken, according to the news station.

“They told us we had to wait a few minutes because Kaia was being fingerprinted, and when she said fingerprinted it hit me like a ton of bricks,” Kirkland told WFLA.

“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”

However, Rolón told NBC News that Kaia was returned to school before she was processed and fingerprinted after a supervisor learned about the arrest. During the arrest of the second 6-year-old child, the transporting officer was unaware that Officer Turner had not received approval from a supervisor, Rolón told The New York Times. The child, who's identity has not been disclosed, was processed through the Juvenile Assessment Center and released to a relative.

During the news conference, Rolón said he issued a notice to the department following the two arrests of the young children to prevent an incident like this from happening again.

“On Friday, I issued a special notice to the entire department, reminding our officers that clearly prohibits the arrest of a juvenile without a manager’s approval. Moving forward, I will personally be delivering this message to all officers,” he said.

Turner had been with the department for 23 years. In 1998, Turner was charged with aggravated child abuse after officials discovered bruises on his then 7-year-old son, The Orlando Sentinel previously reported.

A similar incident occurred earlier this month in Philadelphia after a white officer detained a Black teenager as he waited at a North Philadelphia bus stop. Jahvon Beener told Philadelphia Magazine he and a few of his classmates left Vaux Big Picture High School on September 12 and walked to the SEPTA bus stop at the intersection of 24th Street and Cecil B. Moore Avenue. While they were waiting for the bus, the group saw a white police officer drive past them while staring at the group.

The officer returned moments later with two more police vehicles and three other police officers, who singled out Beener, grabbed his arm, and ordered him to sit in the police car. In a video posted to Instagram, the white officer can be seen talking to Beener, telling the teen, “Remember, you were shaking in the police car.”

“I kept asking him why was he doing this. He squeezed hard on my arm as I tried to let go. He yelled at me to get inside his car, threw my legs in the back of the car, and slammed the door. I started shaking — I was scared for my life,” Beener told the magazine. “I kept asking him what’s wrong and that I didn’t want any trouble. He kept yelling at me. I didn’t understand what was going on.” The Philadelphia Police Department said in a previous statement on Twitter that it was investigating the incident.

“We take all matters involving the stopping, detainment and investigation of citizens very seriously. Accordingly, we immediately initiated an internal affairs investigation,” the department wrote.

About the Author

Maria Perez is a breaking news writer for The North Star. She has an M.A. in Urban Reporting from the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism. She has been published in various venues, including Newsweek, Juvenile Justice Information Exchange, City Limits, and local newspapers like The Wave and The Home Reporter.