Groveland officers accused of using excessive force on 11-year-old girl

Updated:

Loading
GROVELAND, Fla. —

Two Groveland police officers are accused of using excessive force on an 11-year-old girl while responding to a burglary call at her home over the weekend.

The girl's family told Channel 9 the officers went in through the garage door and let themselves inside the house, reportedly with guns drawn, responding to a burglary alarm.

The young girl was on her bed watching television when she said she was forced to the ground at gunpoint.

"One of the officers was pushing me down and when he was pushing me down, (he) put his knee on me and the other officer had his gun pointed at me," she told Channel 9.

The officers' response was prompted by the family's burglary alarm, which had accidentally been tripped.

Jean Guirand wants to know how anyone could think his little girl was a threat.

"Someone should get fired for doing something like," he said.

After relaying his concerns to the chief and after Channel 9 began asking questions , Groveland police launched an internal affairs probe into possible use of excessive force.

Channel 9 found Officers James Festa and John Rigdon have been with the department for three years, and both have been disciplined several times, according to their personnel files.

Festa was reprimanded in December for botching a child abuse investigation. He was also been suspended in 2013 for sleeping on the job.

Rigdon was suspended in May and demoted in 2013 from corporal. He was also reprimanded in 2011. Each punishment was the result of allegedly filing false police reports.

Guirund wants Internal Affairs investigators to scrutinize Sunday's police report, which contains nothing about his daughter's account.

"She's traumatized by it," he said.

Investigators are set to interview his daughter Monday.

The chief told Channel 9 his department is taking the allegations seriously but is not able to comment publicly until the internal investigation is complete.