Orange County

'It’s obviously traumatic’: Retired Sheriff’s commander reacts to 6-year-old taken away in makeshift handcuffs

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. — A retired Sheriff’s Office commander, weighing in on the body camera footage showing a 6-year-old pleading for help as she is put in handcuffs and hauled away from school, is not typical.

“From what I gathered from the video, he came in with the mindset that he was probably going to take the child into custody no matter what,” former Commander Bill Armstrong said. “It appeared the child was cooperative.”

See Armstrong react to the video below:

Eyewitness News first reported on the story back in September. Orlando police said then that the bodycam footage would not be released.

But the family’s attorney has it now, and has shared it.

Orlando police were called to the school after Kaia reportedly kicked a staff member during a tantrum at Lucious and Emma Nixon Academy. Charges against her were later dropped.

The video shows 6-year-old Kaia, confused and crying for help as she’s led away with her hands zip-tied behind her back with makeshift handcuffs from school grounds.

READ MORE: ‘It’s still shocking’: Officer fired after school arrests of 6-year-olds, police chief says

See the arrest and aftermath below:

Kaia bawls as one of the officers, former Officer Dennis Turner, asks the other officer to zip-tie her and take her to Orange County’s Juvenile Detention Center.

As one of the officers tightens the makeshift children’s handcuffs, she cries out “No! No! Don’t put handcuffs on (me). Help me! Help me!”

Turner’s bodycam footage shows him follow the other officer as he leads Kaia to the back of the patrol car. Then, as she is unable to step up and into the SUV on her own, he lifts her up."

READ MORE: Records: Fired officer in 6-year-olds’ arrests had been accused of racial profiling

“Please! Please! Please let me go!” Kaia screams in the bodycam footage. “No! Help me! Help me!”

One school official asks in the video if the restraints were necessary.

“Yes, and if she was bigger, she’d be wearing regular handcuffs,” Turner replies in the video.

Turner then tells school officials he’s arrested 6,000 people in his career and the youngest, before Kaia, was 7 years old.

“She broke the record,” he says.

Turner then arrested another 6-year-old at the same school. He was fired for both arrests for violating department policy requiring a supervisor’s approval to arrest anyone under 12.

Kaia’s grandmother is now pushing to change state law concerning arrests of children for misdemeanors.

“It’s obviously traumatic for a child of that age to go through that," Armstrong said. “It’s 10 times more emotional when the restraints went on.”

Armstrong said because Kaia was already so calm when the officer arrived, that it’s fair to question why Turner was so quick to restrain her.

“He didn’t come into some explosive situation and immediately make a decision that drove his mindset,” Armstrong said. “It was pretty controlled there.”

Adam Poulisse,

Adam Poulisse joined WFTV in November 2019.