A South Florida family says their 11-year-old daughter was pulled out of her bed, shoved onto the ground and held at gunpoint by officers responding to a false burglar alarm. They’re asking for disciplinary measures to be taken against the two officers involved.
In response to a house alarm, Groveland police officers James Festa and John Rigdon reportedly let themselves into Jean Guirand’s home via a garage door — with guns drawn. What happened next can only be described as horrifying.
Guirand’s 11-year-old daughter says she was in her bed, watching TV, on Sunday night. She heard the officers’ voices and assumed it was her father and her father’s friend. Then her terrifying ordeal began.
“The door slammed open, and then the two police officers yelled at me and told me to put my hands up,” she says. “And then they told me to get on the ground while the one officer was telling me to do that while the other officer had his gun pointed at me.”
You’re reading that right. Two grown, armed officers of the law walked in on a little girl watching TV, and their response was to tell her to put her hands up and get on the ground.
It gets worse.
“One of the officers was pushing me down, and when he was pushing me down, he put his knee on me,” the girl says. “And then the other officer still had his gun pointed at me.”
The officers reportedly asked the 11-year-old girl if she was the owner of the house. Eventually they moved on to her father’s room.
“I was sad and scared,” she says. “When I went to my dad’s room, I started crying because I was very scared and didn’t know what to do or what happened.”
The police report about this incident includes nothing of the little girl’s story. The Groveland department is now investigating possible use of excessive force.
This incident truly highlights what we already known. Some people — including police officers — perceive black children to be older and less innocent than white children. There’s no rational reason to enter a house and perceive an 11-year-old girl as a threat or even perceive her as a homeowner — 11-year-olds are fifth- and sixth-grade kids. She’s a child.
Both officers involved have prior disciplinary measures on their records. Festa was suspended for sleeping on the job and just last December was reprimanded for botching a child abuse case. Both allegedly filed false police reports.
While the family seeks answers, a little girl is left unable to understand why those meant to serve and protect her put her through a scary ordeal in her own bedroom.
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