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Officer's Taser is used on girl, 9

Arizona Daily Star | May 25, 2004

A veteran South Tucson police sergeant is under investigation for firing his stun gun to subdue a handcuffed 9-year-old girl.

At the request of Chief Sixto Molina, the Pima County Sheriff's Department is trying to determine if the sergeant committed a crime when he sent a jolt through the child's body.

The police officer used a Taser on the girl at about 5:30 p.m. May 8, Molina said. The nonlethal weapon uses a pulsating electrical charge to immobilize a person for several seconds.

"I'll be the first to admit, you've got a veteran sergeant Tasing a 9-year-old girl, it doesn't look good," said Molina.

The sergeant was one of at least two officers who responded to a call from the Arizona Children's Home, a school for special needs children, on South Eighth Avenue, he said.

"It had to do with a runaway from the institution," the chief said. He declined to provide further details.

The school could not be reached for comment late Monday. But Molina said that the facility is the source of frequent calls to his 25-person department.

Molina said one officer initially responded to the call from the school. That officer requested assistance from another officer and specifically asked that the second officer bring a Taser.

He said the girl was handcuffed at the time the weapon was used.

The sergeant who used the hand-held Taser remains on duty. His name is not being released while the investigation is under way.

"It didn't involve an integrity issue," Molina said. "The officer made a decision to do what he thought he needed to do."

Deputy Dawn Barkman, a spokeswoman with the Sheriff's Department, confirmed a review of the incident is under way but said she had no further details.

The results of the probe will be forwarded to the Pima County Attorney's Office.

"They'll have to present it to us to see if any criminal charges are warranted," said County Attorney's Office spokesman Dan Benavides.

Sgt. Dan Snyder, a South Tucson police spokesman, said the investigation could be complete by the end of the week.