A police officer in Cincinnati who used his Taser on an 11-year-old girl suspected of shoplifting was also caught on camera telling her “this is why there’s no grocery stores in the black community.”
Officer Kevin Brown, 55, is facing punishment ranging from counseling to termination for the Aug. 6 tasing of the girl, who is black, at a Kroger supermarket where she had been suspected of using her backpack to steal items, the Cincinnati Enquirer reports.
“You know, sweetheart, this is why there’s no grocery stores in the black community,” Brown told the girl, according to body cam footage.
Brown violated four policies during the incident, including that his comment constituted prejudice and that he didn’t warn the girl about deploying his Taser, according to a use-of-force report.
Brown, who is also black, insisted to investigators that his remark was backed up by statistics and claimed he wasn’t biased in any way.
The city’s police chief, Elliot Isaac, defended the department’s use-of-force policy that allows Tasers to be used on suspects as young as 7, but told reporters Tuesday that using a Taser was unnecessary during the incident.
“Quite frankly, I believe the officer violated the policy,” Isaac told the City Council’s Law and Public Safety Committee. “It was unnecessary in this circumstance. We’ll take a close look as it relates to juveniles specifically … what’s being done out there nationally.”
The girl was arrested on theft and obstruction of justice charges, but Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters later announced that she would not face any charges. Brown, meanwhile, was placed on restricted duties after the incident. The city’s mayor also publicly apologized to the girl’s family, according to the Enquirer.
The city’s police union president, meanwhile, is backing up Brown, claiming there’s a “certain element of truth” that high instances of theft can cause businesses to struggle financially.
“I think the officer was trying to express to this juvenile suspect that there are consequences, not only to herself, but to others when you don’t respect the property rights of another,” Cincinnati Police Union President Dan Hils told the newspaper.
The comment isn’t the first time Brown has been reprimanded for making inappropriate remarks while on the job. In 2016, he was written up for using a homophobic slur in reference to a domestic violence victim, although the woman did not hear what Brown said. Some lawmakers now think Brown has to go.
“I just don’t know if you have room on the police department for people like this,” Councilman Wendell Young told the newspaper. “This guy, from what I am hearing, has serious issues. He apparently polices the way he feels.”
Young, a former cop, continued: “There comes a time [when] you have to cut your losses.”
Isaac will ultimately determine Brown’s punishment following an internal department hearing. Brown can then appeal any decision.
Brown, according to the use of force report, found clothing, food and drinks totaling $53.81 in the girl’s backpack, which was stolen along with beef jerky, candy and baby clothes. The girl told police her friend took the clothing for her infant brother, the Enquirer reports.
“I didn’t want to do this, but y’all knew what you were doing,” Brown told her while taking her to a manager’s office inside the supermarket. “Sweetheart, the last thing I want to do is tase you like that. When I say stop, you stop. You know you’re caught. Just stop. That hurt my heart to do that to you.”
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