Officer suspended after arresting two 6-year-olds at Florida elementary school

Posted at 6:59 PM, Sep 23, 2019
and last updated 2019-09-23 18:59:10-04

ORLANDO, Fla. – An Orlando elementary school resource officer has been suspended after arresting two 6-year-old children and accusing them of misdemeanors in separate incidents.

State Attorney Aramis Ayala said Monday that her office would not prosecute the misdemeanor battery charges against either child.

“I refuse to knowingly play any role in the school-to-prison pipeline at any age,” she said. “These very young children ought to be protected, nurtured and disciplined in a manner that does not rely on the criminal justice system to do it.”

Police initially said one child was 8 years old, but later said they were both 6 years old, according to WKMG. Police have not responded to CNN’s requests to clarify.

Last week, the officer arrested 6-year-old Kaia Rolle at the Lucious and Emma Nixon Academy in Orlando after she reportedly had a temper tantrum at school. CNN does not normally identify juveniles in such cases, but the family has spoken openly about her.

The girl’s grandmother Meralyn Kirkland told CNN affiliate WKMG the school called her on Thursday to say Kaia kicked someone and was being arrested and charged with battery.

Kirkland says Kaia sometimes experiences side effects from sleep apnea and the family is working on getting the condition resolved. She claims the first-grader was arrested, fingerprinted and had mugshots taken — however police say the child was not processed.

The Orlando Police Department oversees the school resource officer who made the arrest, and they say the situation was not handled properly.

According to the department, the arrest of any person under the age of 12 requires the approval of a watch commander, and this approval was not obtained in Kaia Rolle’s case.

Officer has been suspended

In a statement provided to CNN, the police department said, “The second transport officer verified approval was not obtained and the process for the six year old was stopped immediately. The child was returned to the school prior to being processed at the Juvenile Assessment Center.”

The statement also mentions the school resource officer in question arrested another child in a separate incident.

“The first transport officer was not aware an approval was not obtained, and the (other child) was processed through the Juvenile Assessment Center. The child was released to a family member a short time later.”

The officer responsible for both arrests has now been suspended, police said.

“The officer working at the school is assigned to the Reserve Officer Program and his duties have been suspended pending the outcome of an Internal Investigation,” police Chief Orlando Rolon said in the statement.

“As a grandparent of three children less than 11 years old, this is very concerning to me. Our Department strives to deliver professional and courteous service,” said Rolon.

The Lucious and Emma Nixon Academy said it had no comment on the incident Monday. Calls to Rolle’s grandmother Meralyn were not answered on Monday morning.