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Police review policy after Tasers used on kids

CNN | November 15 2004

MIAMI, Florida (CNN) -- Miami-Dade County Police are reviewing their policy on using Tasers after officers stunned two children with the weapons in the past few weeks.

Miami-Dade police planned to hold a news conference Monday to discuss the incidents and possible disciplinary action stemming from them. The names of both children were being withheld by CNN.

The Taser temporarily immobilizes someone from as far away as 21 feet with 50,000 volts of electricity.

The more recent of the two incidents occurred November 5, when a 12-year-old girl who was skipping school was found drinking and smoking in a swimming pool, Miami-Dade police officer William Nelson stated in an incident report. He said he responded to an anonymous call about the activities.

He said he told the girl he was taking her to school. As they walked to the police car, she ran away.

"I advised her to stop several times," he said in the report. She "continued running even to the point of starting to run into lanes of traffic."

Nelson said he used the Taser for his and the girl's safety, striking her in the base of the neck and lower right back.

The girl was released into her mother's custody and taken to a doctor.

"I couldn't breathe, and I was, like, nervous, and I was scared at the same time," the girl told CNN.

About two weeks earlier, a first-grader was shot with a Taser at school when he threatened to cut his leg with a piece of broken glass, authorities said. The boy's family said he vomited after the jolt.

"If there's three officers, it's nothing to tell a 6-year-old holding a glass, if you feel threatened, 'Hey, here's a piece of candy, hey, here's a toy. Let the glass go,'" the boy's mother told CNN.

But police insisted using the gun was the only option.

"We're happy [to be] here talking about this as opposed to injuries he might have caused to himself with that piece of glass," detective Juan del Castillo said.

Community activists are calling for a meeting with police.

"There needs to be more in-depth study on using the Taser on children," Georgia Ayers said.

Taser International says more than 5,000 police agencies use its product, that it is safe to use on anyone weighing at least 60 pounds.

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