Three Hixton families have filed a complaint with the Jackson County Sheriff's Department, claiming a deputy used pepper spray on four children and two adults who were on a float during an Independence Day parade.

Leeann Wathen, 39, one of those who filed the complaint, said about 20 people, most of them 6- through 8-year-old children, were riding on the float and spraying those watching the parade with squirt guns.

She said her 14-year-old daughter was on the float holding a cup filled with water that the children were using to fill their water guns. The deputy said to her daughter jokingly, "Don't you dare throw it at me" and pulled out his pepper spray, Wathen said.

But Wathen said her daughter threw the water at him, showering his stomach with water.

The deputy then shot his pepper spray at the teenager, Wathen said.

The girl turned her back, but the pepper spray hit 6-, 7- and 15-year-old boys and two adults in the face, she said.

Those hit with the spray did not seek medical attention, Wathen said.

Jackson County Sheriff Richard Young issued statement in which he said he was declining to comment on the incident "to preserve the integrity of the investigative process and to respect the rights of all involved."

"Any investigation will only become public record once the investigation reaches a conclusion and further detailed comment may be made at that time," the sheriff said.