An officer in Mississippi’s Senatobia Police Department was fired after taking a 10-year-old child into custody for urinating in public.
The boy was taken into custody earlier this month after peeing behind his mother’s car, according to Fox13. When Latonya Eason stopped by the Senatobia attorney’s office for legal advice, her son started urinating behind her car, and a police officer spotted him.
Ms Eason recounted the incident to the network. She asked her son why he did that and he reportedly replied, “Mom, my sister said they don’t have a bathroom there.” Ms Eason then said, “You should have come and asked me if they had a restroom.”
The officer told the boy he could get back in the car, Ms Eason told the outlet, adding that the officer was just going to give a warning. But then several other police officers showed up – one said the child had to go to jail, she recalled.
“No, him urinating in the parking lot was not right, but at the same time I handled it like a parent and for one officer to tell my baby to get back in the car it was okay and to have the other pull up and take him to jail. Like no,” the mother told Fox13. “I’m just speechless right now. Why would you arrest a 10-year-old kid?”
“I started crying a little bit. They took me down there and got me out of the truck. I didn’t know what was happening,” the 10-year-old told the outlet. “I get scared and start shaking and thinking I am going to jail.”
The boy said they held him in a jail cell; his mother added that they charged him with child in need of services and then released him to her.
“That could really traumatise my baby. My baby could get to the point where he won’t want to have an encounter with the police, period,” Ms Eason said.
The Senatobia Police Chief Richard Chandler told Fox13 that “the officer did not observe a parent on the scene during the initial contact.” He said that the officers transported the child to the police station where the child was released to his mother. He called the incident “an error in judgment” to relocate the child, as Ms Eason actually was nearby.
“Mistakes like this are a reminder in this profession as to the continual need for training and refreshers on the various topics that we encounter each day,” he said.
On Monday, Mr Chandler issued a statement on Facebook, saying that this incident “triggered an internal complaint,” which resulted in an investigation.
The police chief said that one of the officers involved “is no longer employed” as the “officer’s decisions violated our written policy and went against our prior training on how to deal with these situations.”
He added that other officers involved “will be disciplined.”