Florida Cops Accused of Holding 11-Year-Old Black Girl at Gunpoint

(Photo: WFTV-9, Florida Local News)

Florida Cops Accused of Holding 11-Year-Old Black Girl at Gunpoint

The officers were responding to a tripped alarm at the girl's home.

Published February 3, 2015

A young girl was allegedly forced to the ground at gunpoint by two Florida police officers responding to a burglary alarm at her Groveland home last month, WFTV and Raw Story reports.

The girl's family told WFTV the cops entered the home through the garage door and let themselves inside the house with guns drawn. The alarm had been accidentally tripped.

According to the 11-year-old girl, she was on her bed watching television when the cops, identified as Officers James Festa and John Rigdon, arrived.

"One of the officers was pushing me down and when he was pushing me down, (he) put his knee on me and the other officer had his gun pointed at me," the girl told reporters. “I was very scared and didn’t know what to do,” she added.

Complaints from the girl's father, Jean Guirand, as well as probing from WFTV allegedly prompted Groveland police to launch an internal affairs investigation into the possible use of excessive force.

"Someone should get fired for doing something like this," Guirand said, adding that his daughter is "traumatized" by the encounter.

He is reportedly calling on Internal Affairs to look into the incident's police report, which — as WFTV reports — contains nothing about his daughter's account. Officers were reportedly scheduled to meet with the girl Monday.

Three-year veterans Festa and Rigdon both have disciplinary actions on their personnel files, involving a demotion and reprimand for filing false police reports (Festa) and a botched child abuse probe and suspension for sleeping on duty (Rigdon). According to Chicago Defender, the officers have yet to be placed on administrative leave or suspended.

Police Chief Melvin Tennyson confirmed that an investigation into the incident had been launched on Jan. 28 with internal affairs, but said he is unable to comment publicly until the investigation is complete. 

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(Photo: WFTV-9, Florida Local News)

Written by Patrice Peck


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