An entire police department in Mount Sterling, Ohio has been shut down due to claims of inappropriate action following the use of a Taser gun on a nine-year-old boy.
The incident occurred when Michelle Perry called police because her nine-year-old son, Jared, would not go to school. Authorities responded, and when the child became unruly, an officer used a Taser gun on the boy. Neighbors have described the child as "large for his age," according to The Columbus Dispatch, though they have chosen to remain anonymous.
Police Chief Mike McCoy has been suspended for not reporting the incident to city officials. Council President Lowell Anderson told the local paper that an investigation is currently underway. The entire department has been closed, and Sheriff Jim Sabin has been given authority to patrol the town.
"Chief McCoy failed to notify me of this incident and the nature of the use of force," Mayor Charlie Neff told reporters. "I had to find out from somebody else. That made it bad."
The department has been closed before due to budget cuts. "This has happened before," resident Jay Rapp told NBC. "The sheriff's office did a fine job taking care of the village while the police department was closed down for a few months, so I think we'll be okay."
Public sentiment is rather mixed, with both support for the police officer and condemnation of his action. "The cop was in the wrong if the boy did not go for the gun. More information in needed, such as why the 9-year-old child did not want to go to school. Is he being bullied or abused at school? His family life is definitely questionable," wrote user Vastolany on the Huffington Post's comment section.
Another user saveourplanet pointed out that the use of Taser guns has increased in recent years. In 2011, Everette Howard died after being shot by a Taser gun. He was only 18; police reported that he was confrontational, which led to the use of the Taser.
"The legal liability that Mt. Sterling is now exposed to is in the millions of dollars. No jury will sanction the tasering (sic) of a 9-year-old boy, no matter how large he is for his age. You don't compel an unruly little boy to go to school by using a means of force meant to stop violent adults," noted Thoughtful Indaburbs on The Columbus Dispatch's page.
Jared is doing well, according to one report, and has suffered no lasting physical illness from the incident.