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Bodycam footage shows 6-year-old pleading for a "second chance" as police arrest her at school

Harrowing scenes captured on the body cameras of the officers involved in the child's arrest in September 2019 show the girl begging for help.

Bodycam footage shows 6-year-old pleading for a "second chance" as police arrest her at school
Cover Image Source: Getty Images (representative)

Kaia Rolle was listening to a school employee read her a story when two Orlando police officers walked into the room to arrest her. "What are those for?" the 6-year-old girl asked about the zip ties in an officer's hands. "They’re for you," Officer Dennis Turner said as another officer tied them around the little girl's wrist. "No... no, don’t put handcuffs on!" the child wailed. Terrified, Kaia immediately began weeping, begging the men for a "second chance" and pleading not to take her to the police car. "Help me," she sobbed, "I don't want to go to the police car. Please."



These are the harrowing scenes captured on the body cameras of the officers involved in Kaia's arrest in September 2019. The arrests of the girl and another 6-year-old at Lucious & Emma Nixon Academy drew national headlines and widespread condemnation, eventually leading to the termination of one of the two police officers in the videos. In the footage obtained by the Orlando Sentinel, the child is repeatedly seen begging for help as the officers continued with the arrest. Employees at the Orlando charter school stood by, although some expressed concern for the student.



After placing Kaia in a police SUV to be taken to the Juvenile Assessment Center, Officer Turner went back to the school’s office where he spoke to administrators, downplaying the juvenile detention center, saying it was "not like you think." He told them that he had arrested 6,000 people in 28 years and that the youngest up until that point had been 7-years-old. When school employees informed him that Kaia was 6 and not 8 as he'd believed, he replied: "Now she has broken the record." When asked if it was necessary to place restraints on the child, he said, "Yes. If she was bigger, she would have been wearing regular handcuffs."



According to CNN, Karia's arrest on September 19, 2019, followed what was reportedly a temper tantrum by the child. Written statements by school officials claim the incident began at about 8:10 a.m. when the young girl was screaming and pulling on a classroom door because she wanted to wear her sunglasses. The assistant principal is said to have witnessed the tantrum and ed Kaia to the office while the child was kicking and screaming. "Kaia became aggressive hitting me with her hands in the chest and stomach area. I restrained her by holding her forearms," the assistant principal wrote in the statement.

Meralyn Kirkland, the child's grandmother, believes Kaia was acting out because she was experiencing the side effects of sleep apnea. The school was aware of the issues and that Kirkland was working to get the issues resolved, she said. Kirkland revealed that her grandchild was completely processed at the county Juvenile Assessment Center, where the girl’s mugshot and fingerprints were taken. The employees at the center had to use a step stool so Kaia could reach the camera for the mugshot, she added. "I knew that what they did was wrong, but I never knew she was begging for help. I watched her break," the heartbroken grandmother said of the body cam footage.



Kirkland revealed that the videos still upset her, especially when the officer "callously" talks about arresting children. "You’re discussing traumatizing a 6- and 7-year-old — and that’s a boasting right for you? These are babies." In a statement released at the time of the incident, Orlando Police said that "the arrest of any person under the age of 12 requires the approval of the Watch Commander, which was not obtained in this case. The 6-year-old was released from custody and returned to the school prior to being processed at the Juvenile Assessment Center."



However, Kaia is haunted by the memory of her arrest. A member of the firm representing the child revealed that "It's tough for her to go to school. Every time she sees an officer she freaks out." Kirkland added, "I'm really hurt because they stole her childhood from her." She revealed that the girl wouldn't leave her side for a week and a half following the arrest. The first time she tried taking the child back to school,  Kaia had a meltdown inside the car when she spotted a uniformed officer on the school grounds. "Grandma they are waiting to arrest me again," Kirkland remembers Kaia saying between sobs. The child has since re-enrolled in a private school.



Kaia's family debated for almost a month about whether to release the body camera footage but ultimately decided to do so as they felt it was important for the public to see the "severity" of what actually happened. The family also wanted the Orlando Police Department to acknowledge that they dropped the ball when they decided to arrest a child. They also hope to rally support for Senate Bill 578—a bill currently going through the Florida legislature that would raise the arrest age to 12. Kirkland explained that she supports the bill because she doesn't want another child to suffer the trauma of getting handcuffed and put in the back of a police car.


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