Body cam footage shows officers putting sobbing 6-year-old in handcuffs

The Orlando prosecutor's office did not bring charges against the 6-year-old
Orlando Sentinel/Tribune News Service/Getty Images

Last fall, a 6-year-old girl named Kaia Rolle was arrested at her school in Orlando, Florida, for a tantrum she had earlier in the day. Rolle had kicked and punched three school faculty members, but at the time of her arrest by an Orlando police officer, she was sitting peacefully while a school employee read to her. On Monday, body camera footage of Rolle's arrest was released by her family that shows the girl sobbing and pleading with the police officers not to put her in "handcuffs." Her hands were fastened behind her back with zip ties by a police officer before he removed her from school grounds, put her in the back of a police van, and took her into custody.

The body camera footage taken from Officer Dennis Turner shows another unidentified officer approaching the child with zip ties as she sits with a school administrator. "Stand up, come over here," Turner is heard saying. Rolle then asks, "What are those for?" when she sees the zip ties, prompting Turner to say, "It's for you." Roelle immediately starts crying, while the officer applying the zip ties says, "It's not gonna hurt."

Roelle, sobbing, says, "I don't want handcuffs on!" and repeats the words, "Help me, please." As she is escorted out of the building, she says, "I don't want to go to the police car," and is also heard begging for "a second chance."

The charge against Rolle was misdemeanor battery, though she was released from police custody a day after the arrest and prosecutors did not move forward with the charges. The 6-year-old was fully processed at the Juvenile Assessment Center, where she was fingerprinted and made to take a mugshot. The Orlando Sentinel noted that Rolle wasn’t tall enough to reach the camera, so officers had her stand on a stool for the photo.

While the state of Florida does not have a law in place that prevents police from arresting anyone younger than 12, the Orlando Police Department has an internal rule that officers are required to get a supervisor’s approval, which Turner did not do in this case. He was subsequently fired.

The Orlando Sentinel spoke with Rolle’s grandmother, Meralyn Kirkland, who said that Rolle has sleep apnea, which sometimes predisposes her to tantrums during school. Kirkland told the paper that she'd been working with the school to manage Rolle's behavior.

The footage later indicates Turner is back in the school building, where one employee asks, "The restraints, are they necessary?" Turner replies, "Yes. And if she was bigger, she'd have been wearing regular handcuffs." Turner later explains that the youngest person he'd arrested was 7 years old; when he learns Rolle is only 6, he says, "Now, she has broken the record."

Turner served in a reserve role after 23 years of full-time employment with the police force, but was terminated from his position last year after the arrest of Rolle and another six-year-old. He had a recorded history of use of excessive force, racial profiling, and intimidation, and was charged with child abuse in 1998.