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August 26, 2016 - A police issued Taser X26 stun gun and two cartridges are displayed on a table. (Photo: Karlis Dambrans/Shutterstock.com)

An off-duty Cincinnati officer working a security detail at a grocery store approached an 11-year-old girl he believed might be shoplifting, then struck her in the back using his Taser as she walked away, authorities say. The Cincinnati Police Department is now reviewing its policies on the use of force against juveniles, and reviewing the officer’s actions, with Police Chief Eliot K. Isaac saying, “We are extremely concerned when force is used by one of our officers on a child of this age.”

The incident, which occurred at a Kroger grocery store on Aug. 6, according to The New York Times, began with the officer investigating a group of girls, which included the 11-year-old, who were allegedly stealing food. The police department says that the girl who was stunned ignored the officer when he approached, and walked away as he commanded her to stop several times. He then deployed his Taser on her.

The Cincinnati department’s use-of-force guidelines state that a Taser can be used for self-defense or defense of another person from “active aggression,” or to immobilize a suspect who is “actively resisting arrest.” The manual says that someone actively resisting arrest is being physically evasive through movements such as fleeing, tensing or pushing, or is verbally stating their intention to avoid being taken into custody. It adds that a Taser should not be used on a person who is just fleeing, “absent additional justification.”

The minimum age before an officer should avoid using their Taser is 7, according to the guidelines, and the maximum age is 70. Others the manual tells officers to avoid stunning are pregnant female individuals and those on elevated surfaces. Officers are instructed to consider the severity of the crime at hand, their level of suspicion of the suspect, the risk of danger to others if the target is not immobilized, and the risk of secondary injury posed to the target before deploying the stun gun. They are instructed to aim for an actively resisting suspect’s back, and are prohibited from targeting suspects in the front of the body, eyes, head, neck, chest or genitals, except in self-defense or defense of others.

Authorities charged the 11-year-old girl with theft and obstruction of justice, charges which were later dropped, according to the Associated Press. Cincinnati Mayor John Cranley said he asked the prosecutor to drop the charges, and stated, “Tasing an 11-year-old who posed no danger to the police is wrong. I’m sorry for the harm to her and her family,” according to WCPO.

The girl was taken to a hospital following the incident, then released to her guardian, according to the AP. The officer who shocked her was placed on restrictive duty and an investigation is underway, authorities said.

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