The city of Cincinnati and grocery chain Kroger Co. reached a $240,000 settlement with the family of an 11-year-old girl who was shocked with a Taser by an off-duty policeman after she stole items from a supermarket.
Donesha Gowdy, now 12, was spotted shoplifting in August by a cop working a security detail inside a Kroger market. Gowdy was with a group of girls who stuffed some snacks into their backpacks and left without paying, authorities said.
When Gowdy ignored Officer Kevin Brown's order to stop, he fired his Taser into her back, sending the 90-pound child sprawling, according to bodycam video later released by the department.
Police Chief Eliot Isaac announced Tuesday that Brown, who was reassigned to the Telephone Crime Reporting Unit, would face additional discipline, including a seven-day suspension and training in the proper use of force.
"We take these matters very seriously and are extremely concerned when force is used by one of our officers on a child of this age," Isaac said in a statement.
The Fraternal Order of Police defended Brown, saying he acted according to department procedure.
Gowdy wrote a letter of apology to Kroger, saying, "I'm sorry for stealing from the store [and] will not do it again."
The child was taken to a nearby hospital to be evaluated after the Taser prongs were removed from her lower back and from between her shoulder blades.
The incident prompted an apology from Mayor John Cranley and a review of the department's policy on Tasers, which at the time were allowed to be used on suspects between the ages of 7 and 70.
The case sparked controversy not only because of the child's age. On the bodycam video, the officer can be heard telling the child, "You know, sweetheart, this is why there's no grocery stores in the black community."
Brown and the girl are both black.
Under the agreement's terms, the city will pay $220,000 and Kroger will contribute $20,000. The funds will be administered by a probate court and be used for the child's emotional care, according to the family's attorney.
Mom Donna Gowdy was angry the incident, saying it was unnecessary to use such methods on a girl.
But, she told the Cincinnati Enquirer at the time, she also had a serious talk with her daughter.
"Now you see what momma says, these policemen aren't playing," she says she told her daughter. "It could have been a gun instead of a Taser."