The family of a Florida girl who was arrested at school when she was 6 years old filed a lawsuit on Monday, Sept. 18.
The complaint lists the city of Orlando and several law enforcement officials as defendants in this case for the “terrorizing” arrest of Kaia Rolle at Lucious & Emma Nixon Academy Charter School back in 2019, according to court documents obtained by Reason.
It alleges that officers from the Orlando Police Department, identified as Dennis Turner and Sergio Ramos, “had no probable cause” and “used excessive force” when they handcuffed the child and escorted her out of the building. The lawsuit said that she was detained after having a tantrum in class due to her sleep apnea — a disorder the school was aware of and agreed to accommodate.
Footage from the incident shows Rolle crying and pleading for help as the officer put the cuffs on her wrist.
“I don’t want to go in the police car,” she said.
“You don’t want to?” one of the officers responded.
“No, please,” she cried out. “Give me a second chance.”
The officers then placed her in the back of the police vehicle: “Please, let me go!” the first grader continued.
According to the lawsuit, she was fingerprinted when she arrived at the juvenile detention center and had to step on a step stool to take her mugshot. She was charged with misdemeanor battery, but it was later dropped. Officer Turner also was fired.
During an interview with Insider in 2021, Meralyn Kirkland opened up about the lasting impact the arrest has had on her granddaughter. She said she was struggling in school and was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder.
“They have ruined her life over something that was 100 percent preventable,” Kirkland told the outlet. “She’s still a loving child, but she’s not as fun and loving the way she once was. Before, she saw some good in everything, and nothing used to bring her down, but now she has to bring herself out of despair.”
The lawsuit is seeking compensation for Rolle’s pain and suffering and her past and present medical expenses. According to WESH 2, the family is calling on the state to raise the minimum age for arrests to 12. The Kaia Rolle Act currently prohibits the detention of kids under 7 years old.
“I like my law how it is now, but, like, grandma said, I want it to be at 12 so me and other kids can be protected,” Rolle said, per local news.