Florida officer suspended after arresting two 6-year-old kids at school

The grandmother of one of the children said the girl was acting out because of a sleep disorder.

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By Tim Stelloh

A Florida police officer was suspended after he arrested two young children in school last week, including a 6-year-old who was acting out because of an apparent medical condition, a relative and police said.

Orlando Police Chief Orlando Rolón said in a statement that the reserve school resource officer, Dennis Turner, did not obtain the approval of a commanding officer before making the arrests on Thursday, as department policy requires.

Turner was suspended while the department conducts an internal inquiry, Rolón said.

Officer Dennis Turner.Orlando Police Department

“The Orlando Police Department has a policy that addresses the arrest of a minor and our initial finding shows the policy was not followed,” Rolón said. “As a grandparent of three children less than 11 years old this is very concerning to me.”

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NBC affiliate WFLA reported that the 6-year-old was charged with battery after she kicked someone at Lucious and Emma Nixon Academy, a K-5th grade charter school in Orlando.

The girl’s grandmother, Meralyn Kirkland, attributed her behavioral problems to sleep apnea, according to the station.

Kirkland said the girl was taken to a juvenile detention center Thursday where she was set to be processed. The arrest was halted after a supervisor learned of it, Rolón said, and she was returned to school before being processed.

State Attorney for the Ninth Judicial Circuit Aramis D. Ayala told reporters Monday that her office never had any intention of prosecuting the elementary age children.

"Case numbers are generated by our clerk's office and it is only at that point that I, as a state attorney, is authorized to act," Ayala said. "A case number pertaining to the 6-year-old girl was provided to my office this morning and the charges were dropped this morning."

An elementary aged boy who was arrested in a separate incident at the same school, was processed and later released to a relative.

Michael Dean, the head of the juvenile division at the prosecutor’s office, said Monday that his office was alerted the boy was on his way to the juvenile detention center and he intervened so that the boy wouldn’t spend time at the center.

Police initially said the boy was 8 years old, but Ayala later said the child was also 6 years old. Orlando police confirmed to NBC News Monday that both children were the same age.

Ayala said she has not received a case number for the boy, but once it is assigned, "it too will be immediately dismissed."

The principal of Lucious and Emma Nixon Academy did not respond immediately respond to a request for comment on Sunday, nor did a local police union.