News by VICE

Cop to 11-year-old girl he Tased: “This is why there’s no grocery stores in the black community”

The officer, who is black, said his statement wasn’t biased and was supported by statistics.

by Christianna Silva
Sep 6 2018, 1:45pm

A Cincinnati police officer has been placed on desk duty after Tasing an 11-year-old girl for alleged shoplifting and telling her “this is why there’s no grocery stores in the black community.”

Officer Kevin Brown, who is black, was investigating “several juvenile females allegedly stealing items” from a Kroger grocery store in early August when he approached the girl in the store. She reportedly ignored him and “continued to walk away, ignoring several commands to stop.”

That’s when the officer Tased the girl in the back and told her: “You know, sweetheart, this is why there’s no grocery stores in the black community.”

“The last thing I want to do, sweetheart, is Tase you like that,” Brown says in body-cam video of the Aug. 6 incident. “When I say stop, you stop. You know you’re caught. Just stop. That hurt my heart to do that to you. Then I got to listen to all these idiots out here in the parking lot telling me how I was wrong for tasing you. You broke the law and fled as I tried to apprehend you.”

He’s on desk duty pending an investigation into his use of force.

The comment was caught on Brown’s body camera, and it is the second time in two years that he has faced accusations of making inappropriate comments while on the job. In 2016, he was written up for using a homophobic slur when describing an alleged domestic violence victim, according to the Cincinnati Enquirer.

Brown didn’t turn his body camera on until after he deployed his taser, which is a violation of police policy and makes it more difficult to get a clear picture of the altercation. And, according to a use of force report obtained by the Enquirer, he also violated police policy because he didn’t warn her that he was going to use a Taser, and the use of a Taser at the time was “unnecessary.” The Cincinnati Police Department did not immediately respond to VICE News.

Brown later told police that his statement about grocery stores wasn’t biased and was supported by statistics. Studies have shown that black neighborhoods with little poverty had fewer supermarkets than high-poverty white areas, and according to Civil Eats, there are fewer than a dozen black-owned supermarkets across the entire country.

Cincinnati Police Union President Dan Hils also defended Brown's statement, saying there was a “certain element of truth” in his statement.

“How can we trust in a fair judgment of this officer’s actions when so many in high public positions condemned his actions before they knew all the facts?” Hils said to the Enquirer. “They should address the fact he did not turn on his camera in time, but other than that, the agency should consider policy and procedure changes.”

However, according to the report, the comment constituted prejudice.

“Quite frankly, I believe the officer violated our policy,” Police Chief Elliott Isaac said about Brown deploying his taser without warning and expressing racial prejudice, according to WLWT5. “I believe the use of force was unnecessary in this particular circumstance.”