Arresting children under 7 is banned in Florida. A family wants to raise it to 14

Kaia Rolle was arrested at school in 2019 for a temper tantrum

Click Orlando | By Jerry Askin | September 18, 2023

ORLANDO, Fla. – There’s a continued push to raise the minimum arrest age, nearly four years after a 6-year-old was detained for throwing a temper tantrum at school.

The demand for change comes after the girl’s family said she’s still traumatized.

The arrest made national headlines in 2019 when then-6-year-old Kaia Rolle was handcuffed with zip ties by an Orlando school resource officer.

Her charges were later dropped.

Meralyn Kirkland says her now 10-year-old granddaughter is still devastated after having to experience this back in 2019.

“This is a lifelong mission of recovery for Kaia,” said Kirkland. “This should not happen.”

Orlando police released body camera video showing Kaia restrained with zip ties at Lucious and Emma Nixon Academy.

According to police records, the School Resource Officer Dennis Turner, put the zip ties on after Kaia threw a tantrum in class. Turner was later fired for violating the department’s policy which requires officers to get the approval of a watch commander before arresting anyone under 12 years old.

“There is no way a minimum age for an arrest at the age of 7 can be allowed to stand,” said Kirkland.

Kaia’s family and their attorneys are demanding the state of Florida raise the minimum arrest age. State legislators passed the Kaia Rolle Act back in 2021 banning the arrest of kids under 7.

When asked what age he sees for the minimum arrest age of Florida, Kaia’s family attorney Bobby DiCello said, “Not less than 14 here in the state of Florida.”

Kaia’s family also filed an amended lawsuit Monday claiming Kaia’s rights were violated by excessive force, a false arrest and what they’re calling malicious prosecution.

“Babies, children are being treated like this,” DiCello said.

The lawsuit is against the city of Orlando, Dennis Turner, and other Orlando police leaders, including former police chief Orlando Rolon.

News 6 reached out to Orlando police and the city of Orlando for comment. The city of Orlando said, “As is our city practice, we do not comment on pending litigation.”

The Orlando Police Department said, “As is our city practice, we do not comment on pending litigation.”


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