Police in Georgia handcuffed a kindergartner after the girl threw a tantrum and the police chief defended the action.
The girl’s family demanded Tuesday that the City of Milledgeville, Georgia change its policy so that other children aren’t treated the same way. They say the child was shaken up after being put into a cell at the local police station.
Salecia Johnson, 6, was accused of tearing items off the walls and throwing books and toys in an outburst Friday at Creekside Elementary School in Milledgeville, according to a police report.
After Johnson was sent to the principal’s office, police say a small shelf thrown by the child struck the principal in the leg requiring medical attention. The child also jumped on a paper shredder and tried to break a glass frame, the police report states.
The school called police. When an officer tried to calm the child in the principal’s office, she resisted, police say. She “was restrained by placing her hands behind her back and handcuffed,” a police report states.
A juvenile complaint was filed, charging the girl of simple battery and damage to property.
Police Chief Dray Swicord says the department’s policy is to handcuff people in certain situations.
“Our policy states that any detainee transported to our station in a patrol vehicle is to be handcuffed in the back and there is no age discrimination on that rule,” Milledgeville Police Chief Dray Swicord said.
Constance Ruff, the mother of Salecia Johnson, is outraged over the school’s reaction.
“Call the police? Is that the first step? Or is there any other kind of intervention that can be taken to help that child?” Ruff asked. “She might have misbehaved, but I don’t think she misbehaved to the point where she should have been handcuffed and taken downtown to the police department,” she added.
“A six-year-old in kindergarten. They don’t have no business calling the police and handcuffing my child,” said Earnest Johnson, Salecia’s father, told reporters.
Police said they tried to contact the girl’s mother, but could not reach her. Instead, the child was taken to a police station.
The girl’s aunt, Candace Ruff, went with Salecia Johnson’s mother to pick her up from the police station. “She (Salecia) was by herself in a holding cell and complained about the handcuffs,” Candace Ruff said.
“She said they were really tight. She said they really hurt her wrists,” Ruff told reporters. “She was so shaken up when we went there to pick her up.”
The police chief says the girl was taken to the police department’s squad room, not a holding cell, and officers there tried to calm her and gave her a Coke.
Due to her age, authorities say she will not have to go to court and will not be sentenced.
Constance Ruff says that her daughter has been suspended and cannot return to school until August.