OZARK, Ark. – A police officer in a small Arkansas town used a stun gun on an unruly 10-year-old girl after he said her mother gave him permission to do so. Now the town's mayor is calling for an investigation into whether the Taser use was appropriate.
According to a report by Officer Dustin Bradshaw, obtained Wednesday by The Associated Press, police were called to the Ozark home Nov. 11 because of a domestic disturbance. When he arrived, the girl was curled up on the floor, screaming, the report said.
Bradshaw's report said the girl screamed, kicked and resisted any time her mother tried to get her in the shower before bed.
"Her mother told me to tase her if I needed to," Bradshaw wrote.
The child was "violently kicking and verbally combative" when Bradshaw tried to take her into custody, and she kicked him in the groin. So he delivered "a very brief drive stun to her back," the report said.
The names of the girl and her mother were redacted in the report.
Ozark Mayor Vernon McDaniel said Wednesday that the girl wasn't injured and is now at the Western Arkansas Youth Shelter in Cecil.
But McDaniel said he wants Arkansas State Police — and if they decline, the FBI — to investigate the incident. The state police declined his request Tuesday.
"People here feel like that he made a mistake in using a Taser, and maybe he did, but we will not know until we get an impartial investigation," McDaniel said.
Police Chief Jim Noggle said Tasers are a safe way to subdue someone who's a danger to themself or others. No disciplinary action was taken against Bradshaw, he said.
"We didn't use the Taser to punish the child — just to bring the child under control so she wouldn't hurt herself or somebody else," Noggle said.
If the officer tried to forcefully put the girl in handcuffs, he could have accidentally broken her arm or leg, Noggle said.
He said a touch of the stun gun — "less than a second" — stopped the girl from being unruly, and she was handcuffed, he said.
"She got up immediately and they put her in the patrol car," McDaniel said.
Noggle said the girl will face disorderly conduct charges as a juvenile in the incident.
The girl's father, Anthony Medlock, told the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette that his daughter has emotional problems, but that she didn't have a weapon and shouldn't have been Tasered.
"My daughter does not deserve to be tased and be treated like an animal," said Medlock, who is divorced from the girl's mother and does not have custody.
Steve Tuttle, a spokesman for Taser, said it's up to individual law enforcement agencies to decide when Taser use is appropriate.
In some cases, a Taser "presents the safer response to resistance compared with the alternatives such as fists, kicks, baton strikes, bean bag guns, chemical agents, or canine response," Tuttle said in a statement.
The police chief, who has been Tasered twice himself during training sessions, said his department has never had to Taser a child or elderly person before, but that in some instances, that could be necessary to ensure safety.
"We don't want to do things like this," Noggle said. "This is something we have to do. We're required to maintain order and keep the peace."