The family of a 6-year-old Georgia girl is upset at police and school officials after the girl was handcuffed and taken to a police station for allegedly throwing furniture, tearing items off the walls and knocking over a shelf, which injured the principal.
"A 6-year-old in kindergarten?" Earnest Johnson, the father of Salecia Johson, asked with disbelief. "They have no business calling the police and handcuffing my child," he told WMAZ-TV.
Police defended their actions during the incident which occurred last Friday at Creekside Elementary School in Milledgeville, Ga.
"Our policy states that any detainee transported to our station in a patrol vehicle is to be handcuffed in the back. There is no age discrimination on that rule," Milledgeville Police Chief Dray Swicord told WMAZ-TV.
The family on Tuesday demanded that the city change its policy, the Associated Press reported, and claimed the girl was shaken up while at the police station.
The police officer called to the school later wrote that he "noticed damage to school property and possible assault of other students and staff. I made six attempts to contact her mother via telephone."
"I attempted to calm Johnson down," he wrote in his incident report. "Johnson then pulled away and began actively resisting and fighting with me."
The principal, Dianne Popp, said "a small shelf struck her in the leg while Johnson was throwing items at her," according to the police report, and that the girl "tried several times to get out of the office. Johnson was observed biting the door knob of the office and jumping on the paper shredder and attempted to break a glass frame above the shredder."
Johnson was charged with assault and damage to property, WMAZ-TV reported, but she will not have to go to court because of her age.
Johnson's mother, Constance Ruff, says her daughter was suspended until the start of the next school year.
"She has mood swings some days, which all of us have mood swings some days," she told WMAZ-TV. "I guess that was just one of her bad days."
Asked by msnbc.com if the suspension means the girl will be held back a year, a school official had "no comment" and said the principal would have to respond to that but was not immediately available due to school testing.
The school district superintendent, Geneva Braziel, called the student's behavior "violent and disruptive," the Associated Press reported.
Johnson's aunt, Candace Ruff, said the girl "might have misbehaved, but I don't think she actually misbehaved to the point that she should have been handcuffed and taken downtown to the police department."
"Call the police? Is that the first step? Or is there any other kind of intervention that can be taken to help that child," she asked.
Ruff added that the girl was by herself in a holding cell and complained about the handcuffs when she and her sister went to get her.
"She said they were really tight. She said they really hurt her wrists," Ruff told the Associated Press. "She was so shaken up when we went there to pick her up."
Swicord, the police chief, denied the child was held in a holding cell, with the Associated Press reporting that he said she was held in the department's squad room and given a Coke to try to calm her down.
This isn't the first time we've seen schoolchildren handcuffed by police. In Colorado last month, a 6th grader was handcuffed and taken to a juvenile holding facility for disobeying an assistant principal and being "argumentative and extremely rude," according to the police report.
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