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Mom sues after 8-year-old tased: Girl blasted with 1,200 volts, excessive force?

A South Dakota mom sues police after her 8-year-old girl was walloped with a Taser. The girl’s mom, Dawn Stenstrom, has now brought a suit against the city of Pierre, South Dakota, its former police chief and the four officers who showed up at their house in October 2013 and blasted their daughter.

Writes CNN on Aug. 9: “The reason the police were at the home was to keep the girl from hurting herself; the babysitter had called them because the child had a knife in her hand. All parties agree on this point. But their opinions about the responding officers' actions diverge from there.”

State investigators already conducted an independent review of the incident, ruling that the use of the electroshock weapon was justified, calling it the “safest way to defuse” the standoff with the so-called suicidal girl.

“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,” said Hughes County state's Wendy Kloeppner.

Stenstrom strongly disagrees, saying her daughter has suffered intense physical, psychological and emotional injuries. In the suit, the mother and her lawyer write:

Within seconds, an officer fired darts from the electroshock weapon into the chest of the 70-pound girl. 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.

Pierre’s former police chief, Robert Grandpre, who is named as a defendant in the suit, disputes rhe “excessive force” moniker, and says the actions of his officers “might possibly have saved this girl's life.”

Stenstrom's attorney, Dana Hanna, was candid in her response: “That’s bull***t,” she said.

“Four trained police officers surrounding a 70-pound, 8-year-old Indian girl,” 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 Tasers 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 being there because they were called. They were there. But what happened while they were there is why I'm upset,” Jones said. “I don't think 8-year-olds should be Tased anywhere in the world.”

The lawsuit is asking for $100,000 in actual damages, plus an undisclosed amount for punitive damages.

According to CNN, Stenstrom and her daughter, “who are members of the Rosebud Sioux tribe, have moved from Pierre back to the tribal reservation.”

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