An 11-year old black girl who was stun gunned by a Cincinnati police officer will be awarded $240,000 as part of a civil rights settlement.
The Cincinnati Enquirer reported the award Tuesday, saying the city will pay $220,000 to 11-year old Donesha Gowdy. The remaining $20,000 will be signed over by Kroger Co.
Use of the money, writes SFGate.com, will be monitored by a probate court. Cincinnati officials have also agreed to host a juvenile police problem-solving seminar.
Gowdy was reportedly confronted by law enforcement after being caught shoplifting in a Kroger grocery store. She tried to escape through an outlet parking lot but was stun gunned by Officer Kevin Brown.
Brown, who’s also black, told Gowdy she was part of a larger problem.
“Sweetheart, this is why there’s no grocery stores in the black community,” Brown can be heard saying in a bodycam tape.
Internal investigations, as recounted by SFGate.com, concluded that Officer Brown had violated four separate policies. Among them were the making of a prejudicial comment and misuse of a stun gun. Brown was also found at-fault for failing to warn Gowdy that he’d use a Taser and for not turning on his body camera until after the confrontation had taken place.
While Cincinnati policy allows law enforcement to user stun guns on children as young as Gowdy, investigators determined that it’s police’s responsibility to use restrain when dealing with minors.
A transcript from a pre-disciplinary hearing, held in September, shows Brown decrying the investigation as a “political hotbed.” Asked if he knew when it was alright to use a Taser, the officer replied, “I can’t even think at the moment.”
The official described as a ‘hearing officer’ by the Cincinnati Enquirer found, “It was unreasonable, and therefore, an excessive use of force.
“Officer Brown had ample opportunities to stop and detain Ms. Gowdy. Officer Brown was almost within reaching distance of Ms. Gowdy as they both excited the door. A few more steps by Officer Brown would have placed him in a position to control Ms. Gowdy as she attempted to leave the store Instead, Office [sic] Brown deployed his taser when other options were reasonable available.”
The officer concluded the report by saying, “Officer Brown Tased an 11-year old theft suspect who posed minimal threat to the officer or society as she attempted to leave the Kroger Grocery Store carrying in her hands a bag of chips and a beverage. There were several witnesses who voiced their concerns to him about Tasing her. The highest standards of ethical principles demands the appearance that our officers are doing the right thing.”
On Tuesday, Police Chief Eliot Isaac announced that Brown would be suspended for seven days without pay as punishment. He’ll also be barred from ‘working outside police-related details for two months’ and will be assigned use-of-force training.
“We take these matters very serious and are extremely concerned when force is used by one of our officers on a child of this age,” Isaac said in a statement. “As I committed earlier, the department took a very thorough review of this incident and our Department standards.”
Brown’s been temporarily put into a “telephone crime reporting unit,” according to the Enquirer.
Officer Brown has been cited for problematic behavior 11 times in the past. In each case, the department recommended that he ‘do better.’