Police in Georgia defended their decision Tuesday to handcuff and arrest a six-year-old elementary student after the school called to report a juvenile had assaulted a principal and was damaging school property.
Milledgeville police said they were called to Creekside Elementary school on Friday for an unruly juvenile, who was allegedly throwing a tantrum.
According to their report, when the officer arrived, he observed kindergartner Salecia Johnson on the floor of the principal’s office screaming and crying.
The officer stated in the report that he noticed damage to school property and tried numerous times to calm down the girl, who eventually “pulled away and began actively resisting and fighting with me.”
“The child was then placed in handcuffs for her safety and the officer proceeded to bring her down to the police station,” said Chief Dray Swicord.
Despite the girl’s behavior, her family said police should not have been involved.
“I don’t think she misbehaved to the point where she should have been handcuffed and taken downtown to the police department,” Johnson’s aunt, Candace Ruff.
The girl was released to Ruff after numerous attempts to reach her parents failed, the police report said.
Swicord said his department still has not heard from the girl’s mother or father.
But the parents have spoken to reporters.
“Call the police? Is that the first step?” Johnson’s mother, Constance Ruff, asked.
Johnson’s mother said she wondered if there was “any other kind of intervention” the school could have used to help her daughter.
“They don’t have no business calling the police and handcuffing my child,” said Salecia’s father, Earnest Johnson.
Regardless of age, said Swicord, “when a person is put in handcuffs it’s for their safety, it’s not a punishment.”
According to the police report, Johnson’s combative behavior included throwing furniture, including a small shelf which struck the principal on the leg.
The child was also observed “biting the door knob of the office and jumping on the paper shredder.”
The report stated Johnson also “attempted to break a glass frame above the shredder.”
“I noticed the damage to school property and possible assault of other students and staff,” the responding officer said in the report.
The six-year-old was initially charged as a juvenile with simple battery of a school teacher and criminal damage to property, but a police spokesman said at a news conference Tuesday the girl would not be charged due to her age.
Police have also notified the Department of Family and Children’s Services about the incident.