ORLANDO, Fla. – A local woman is speaking out after her 6-year-old granddaughter was handcuffed and arrested as a result of an in-school tantrum.
Meralyn Kirkland said she was shocked Thursday when she got a call saying a school resource officer at Lucious and Emma Nixon Academy, an Orlando charter school, arrested 6-year-old Kaia Rolle.
Kirkland said Rolle was acting out in class, a side effect of a lack of sleep from a medical condition, so she was sent to the office. While Rolle was there, a staff member grabbed her wrists in order to calm her down and that's when she lashed out and kicked, according to Kirkland.
She said Officer Dennis Turner didn't understand when she tried to explain Rolle's behavior.
"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 said.
Rolle was taken to the Juvenile Assessment Center on a battery charge.
"How do you do that to a 6-year-old child and because she kicked somebody?" Kirkland asked.
Speaking about the arrest Friday, Kirkland struggled to hold back tears.
"A literal mug shot of a 6-year-old girl," she said in disbelief.
Rolle tried to stay strong for her grandmother as she recalled the incident.
"I felt sad that my grandma was sad, and I really missed her," she said.
Orlando Police Department officials said Rolle was one of two children Turner arrested that day, the other was 8 years old. Per department policy, officers are required to seek approval from their watch commander before arresting anyone under 12, but according to Sgt. David Baker, Turner didn't do that.
An internal investigation into the arrests is ongoing.
While Kirkland now has to deal with the repercussions of the arrest, including an upcoming court date, she hopes no child has to experience what her granddaughter went through.
"No 6-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," Kirkland said.