Police in South Dakota used a Taser on an 8-year-old girl who they said threatened to harm herself, and despite a large backlash the department is standing behind the decision.
The incident happened on Friday night, when three Pierre police officers responded to a report of a suicidal 8-year-old girl who had stabbed herself in the leg. Police said the girl was holding a 4 1/2-inch knife to her chest when officers arrived and would not put it down.
The police said the girl held the knife up toward police officers when they tried to advance.
“She immediately put the knife back at her chest,” said police chief Bob Grandpre.
This prompted an officer to use his Taser on the 8-year-old girl, who was then taken to a hospital on a 24-hour hold. The department deemed that the action was necessary to prevent the girl from harming herself, and the officer remains on active duty.
“He quite possibly saved the juvenile’s life that night,” Grandpre said.
The girl’s parents, who had left the 8-year-old with a babysitter, want to see the officer disciplined.
“Tasers are for grown adults, not 8-year-old girls,” said Bobby Jones, the child’s father. “They say it was for her own safety, but there is no justification for that.”
Bobby Jones also says there was no reason for police to Taser his 8-year-old girl. He noted that the knife she held was a small paring knife incapable of doing any real harm, and that she wasn’t doing anything more than “acting out.”
The 8-year-old Tasered by police is one of a number of high-profile incidents involving the use of Tasers. In August an Indiana pastor waved at police officers as he rode by on his bike, but said officers misinterpreted the gesture and handcuffed him, then used a Taser on him.