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Thursday, March 27, 2008

11-Year-Old Girl Tasered At School After Punching Officer In Face

March 27, 2008

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. -- An Orange County deputy said she had no choice but to shock an 11-year-old girl with a Taser on Thursday morning in an elementary school classroom. Deputies said it was to stop a violent temper tantrum.

The girl at Moss Park Elementary punched the deputy in the nose so hard the deputy went to the hospital. While an 11-year-old shocked by a Taser sounds extreme to some parents, other parents told Eyewitness News the girl deserved it.

Eyewitness News talked to several parents Thursday who said that Thaliamar Jimenez has caused trouble before. Most of those parents are coming down firmly on the side of the deputy.

Meanwhile, the mother of the fourth grader is having a hard time understanding how another day at school turned into her daughter going to jail.

"The school knows pretty well that my daughter is like a 5-year-old," explained the girl's mother, Sandra Garcia.

Garcia told Eyewitness News that her 11-year-old daughter has a learning disability and when she was approached by the deputy Thursday morning in class she was simply scared to death.

According to the arrest report, before school Thursday morning, another student told teachers at Moss Park that Thaliamar pushed a boy into the street. When teachers tried to talk to the girl she became combative, started pushing her desk and chair and even spit at the teachers.

The school resource officer, Orange County Deputy Donna Hudepohl, tried to take Thaliamar to the principal's office and that's when the child started swinging, hitting the officer in the nose. Hudepohl was transported to Florida East Hospital. She sustained severe bruising to the nasal cavity as a result of the injury.

"My daughter told me, 'Mommy, you know I wouldn't hit nobody! If I hit her in the nose, it was by mistake. I didn't hit her intentionally. I didn't do that!'" Garcia said.

"She actually spoke to the student, told her multiple times to come. Even after the student punched her, she still continued to try and make the arrest without having to taze her. And that obviously wasn't working," explained Corporal Susan Soto, Orange County Sheriff's Office.

Outside the school, many of the parents Eyewitness News talked to question the use of a Taser on an 11-year-old child.

"I just don't know if that's necessary," one parent said.

Many other parents are standing by the woman they call "their deputy."

"She had it coming. She assaulted an officer. You can't let that go," said parent Shanna Herrick.

Those same parents Eyewitness News talked to said that, to their knowledge, it was the first time an incident like this has taken place at the school.

Jimenez was transported to Florida East Hospital to have the Taser prongs removed, but she had no other injuries. She was arrested and charged with battery on a law enforcement officer, disrupting a school function as well as resisting with violence.

The Orange County Sheriff's Office policy allows deputies to use Tasers when there is "active resistance" from a suspect. There is no rule against using Tasers on children, but in 2005 a Florida lawmaker tried to make it illegal for any officer to shock children with Tasers. The proposal was stalled because there is no scientific research showing what Tasers can do to kids medically.

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