A mom sues law enforcement after her 8-year-old is tased in an incident of police using "excessive force." Dawn Stenstrom and her boyfriend, Bobby Jones, don't believe cops needed to handle things the way they did after responding to a phone call from a babysitter.
Stenstrom's daughter alarmed the babysitter when she threatened to hurt herself. The 8-year-old had a paring knife in her hand and police say the only option they had was to stun the girl.
All of this took place in Pierre, S.D. last Oct., Opposing Views reports Aug. 20. Former police chief Robert Grandpre and four other officers agree that the girl, identified only as "L.M.J." in court documents, required the necessary force they used.
CNN gets more into the story. This is what the mom notes in her lawsuit:
"Within seconds. The force of the electricity shot through her body, lifted her, and threw her against a wall. After the officers had stunned (the girl) into high voltage submission, they pulled the fish-hook like Taser darts from her chest, gave her emergency medical attention, bandaged the holes left by the razor-sharp hooks, and called the ambulance."
All parties agree that police arrived on the scene after the babysitter called them worried that the girl was going to harm herself with the kitchen paring knife she was holding. Everything after that is where all of them have differ. The 8-year-old was tased because it "might possibly have saved this girl's life," Grandpre says.
A two-month investigation resulted in the South Dakota Division of Criminal Investigation ruled in December that police handled things appropriately.
Hughes County state's attorney Wendy Kloeppner says given the "circumstances facing the officer at the time, it appears from the report that deploying a taser was the best viable way to defuse the situation."
Stenstrom's attorney Dana Hanna said that statement is "bull****."
"Four trained police officers surrounding a 70-pound, 8-year-old Indian girl," should have used less risky tactics, Hanna said.
"One distracts her, another grabs the girl's arm. That's what they should have done. She had a kitchen paring knife, but hadn't cut. She was a kid throwing a tantrum. They should have made an attempt to grab the kid, not use a weapon to throw her into a wall. A Taser's not meant to kill, but it does kill. Many people have died after being hit by a Taser by cops. It never should be used on a little child. She certainly wasn't presenting a danger to officers."
Bobby Jones, the girl's father, says he doesn't "fault the police" for being present when the babysitter called, but he's upset about how they handled the situation with his daughter.
Of the four officers who responded to the scene last Oct., one was a taser instructor and another was a hostage negotiator.
Grandpre claimed in Oct. that Pierre police used tasers a total of nine times in the past two years. He said the 8-year-old girl was the youngest.
"I don't think 8-year-olds should be Tased anywhere in the world," Jones said.
Stenstrom's attorney said she and Jones and he's not a party to the lawsuit.
The mom is suing for $100,000 in damages, punitive damages, and "other relief as the court shall consider to be fair and equitable."
Hanna's co-counsel Patrick Duffy explains that the girl's pain and suffering is going to be what a jury has to decide what the anguish is worth.
Stenstrom and her daughter are members of the Rosebud Sioux tribe and moved from Pierre back to the tribal reservation.
It's unknown if the lawsuit will make it to trial. The defendants' don't believe it will, but Hanna hopes it will.
If a mom sues law enforcement after her 8-year-old daughter is tased, will it make a difference in how Pierre handle children with stun guns?