ORLANDO, Fla. – Body camera recorded by an Orlando school resource officer shows a distraught, sobbing 6-year-old girl being restrained with zip ties and pleading with the officer as she’s led to a patrol car outside her school.
The arresting officer, Dennis Turner, was later fired by the Orlando Police Department following the September arrest of the student. The charges against the girl were dropped and her record was expunged.
Orlando Police Department officials previously declined a public records request to release the body camera video showing Kaia Rolle’s arrest at Lucious and Emma Nixon Academy on Sept. 19, 2019, citing student privacy issues, however, the family’s attorney was given a copy and shared it with local news outlets.
The 6-year-old was arrested after school staff said she had a temper tantrum at school.
Kaia’s grandmother, Meralyn Kirkland, previously told News 6 her granddaughter 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 Kaia 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.
Turner wrote in Kaia's arrest report that Beverly Stoute, whom he identified as an assistant principal, was the victim in the case and she wanted to press charges because Kaia kicked her on the legs and punched her arms several times.
School officials later said in a statement neither Stoute or anyone else from the school said they wanted to press charges.
Body camera video shows school staff questioning the arrest of Kaia and obviously concerned for her wellbeing.
The video starts as the school resource officer walks into an office along with the OPD transport officer, where a school staff member is reading a book to the girl.
“Stand up,” Turner tells the girl.
“What are those for?” Kaia said, beginning to cry and looking down at the zip ties.
The child is shaking and crying as she’s walked to the Orlando police patrol car, pleading with the transport officer.
“Please, give me a second chance,” she said. “Please, let me go.”
Turner thanks the officer who came to take Kaia for booking and then walks back into the school, asking the employee who was reading to Kaia if she’s all right because she’s wiping away tears.
“I’m upset but I’m good,” she said.
Other school employees are asking where Kaia is being taken. Turner describes the juvenile processing center as “just a bunch of kids in there.”
“She’s going to be picked up and home in a couple of hours,” he said.
“The restraints, are they necessary?” an employee said.
“If she were bigger she’d be wearing regular handcuffs,” Turner replies, adding he previously arrested a 7-year-old.
Turner said out of the 6,000 people he’s arrested, Kaia “now has broken the record” as the youngest person he’s arrested.
Kaia was fingerprinted and had her mugshot taken but charges were never officially filed, according to State Attorney Aramis Ayala.
Per OPD policy, if children are under 12 years old, an officer must get approval from a watch commander to make an arrest.
Turner was fired for violating department policy.
The second officer seen in the video taking Kaia away in the patrol car was unaware protocol was not followed and was cleared through internal affairs investigation, according to the department.
“Internal Affairs investigated (the officer’s) role in the incident and he was Exonerated after that investigation,” OPD Sgt. David Baker said. “The investigation revealed that he notified his supervisor multiple times about concerns with the arrest but was never given instruction not to proceed with the prisoner transportation.”
Kaia was one of two 6-year-olds arrested by Turner on Sept. 19. No charges were ever officially filed against either child.
The young students’ arrests garnered local and national outcry.
“On behalf of myself and the entire Orlando Police Department, I apologize to the children involved and their families," Orlando police Chief Orlando Rolon said on Sept 25. “As a grandfather of three children less than 11 years old, I can only imagine how traumatic this was for everyone involved.”
News 6 has reached out to a spokesperson for the Lucious and Emma Nixon Academy for comment.
After the video was released Turner had this to say:
“I was a police officer for 23 years, and I was in the military before that. All I’ve ever done is to serve my country and my community. That’s all I have to say about this,” Turner said.
President of the Orlando Fraternal Order of Police Adam Krudo said what is seen in the video is a “lapse of judgment on the part of Dennis Turner.”
Krudo said the guidelines in the department’s manual have been updated. He said officers now need a deputy chief approval before arresting anyone under the age of 12. Before the new policy, officers only needed a lieutenant’s approval.
State Sen. Randolph Bicoy introduced a bill prohibiting a child under the age of 12 to be arrested. The bill is still going through committees.