Can a six-year-old be a juvenile offender?

Karesha Buchanan, Staff Writer

Imagine waking your child up, getting him or her dressed and sending him or her off to school one morning. About halfway through the day, you get a call stating that your six-year old has been arrested and is being booked and processed as we speak. How would you feel? Well, for the grandmother of Kaia Rolle and the family of an unidentified six-year-old boy this nightmare became a reality.

In the early morning hours of Thursday, September 19, 2019 Meralyn Kirkland got a call from the Lucious & Emma Nixon Charter Academy that her granddaughter Rolle had kicked someone and was being transported and booked into the Orange County Juvenile Detention facility, where she was being charged with domestic battery, fingerprinted, and mugshotted. Kirkland then began to explain that Rolle suffers from sleep apnea, a disorder that disturbs the sleep patterns, and that she was simply acting out due to lack of rest, to which the school official replied, “I have sleep apnea and I don’t behave that way.” Rolle’s attorney Aramis D. Ayala told the press on Monday that the courts never intended to prosecute and that the arrests are an obstruction of justice and human rights. Orlando police say that the issue was not handled properly, and the officer in question is currently under investigation. “I refuse to knowingly play any role in the school-to-prison pipeline,” Ayala said. “… The criminal process ends here today. The children will not be prosecuted.”  Policy says that no child under the age of twelve is to be arrested without the approval of higher administration, which the arresting officer was aware of and completely chose to disregard. 

Police chief Orlando Rolon spoke out about the incident stating, “On behalf of the entire Orlando PD, I apologize to the children and their families. As a grandfather of three less than eleven years old, I can only imagine how traumatic this was for everyone involved.” He then went on to say, “This will not stop. But at my level, I have the opportunity to be able to exercise that and when I came in today, I knew there was no choice here. Turner is going to be terminated.”

 This isn’t the first time that officer Dennis Turner, the arresting officer, has had issues with overdoing his authority. In 1998 Turner was arrested and charged for beating his then-seven-year-old son. He had another incident with his ex-wife’s husband where he stated he was “off duty,” and that “police couldn’t stop him.” In another incident in 2016, he tasered a man five times when the man clearly was not resisting. Turner was entered into the resource program after his resignation in June 2018. He since then has been fired and is no longer working the position. Turner hasn’t made any comments regarding the incident.