Officer in Hot Water for Tasering 12-Year-Old

HAWTHORNE, Calif. -- Hawthorne police have launched a misconduct investigation of an officer who used a 50,000-volt stun gun on a violent autistic 12-year-old boy at one of the city's middle schools, it was reported Monday.
Such use of electroshock weapons by police on young students is rare, but high-profile incidents have sparked fierce debate around the country over when, if ever, Tasers should be used on children.

A Hawthorne police spokesman told The Los Angeles Times that the department launched its investigation in response to a complaint by the boy's parents days after the Sept. 23 incident. He said department officials are reviewing the incident to determine whether the officer followed the agency's rules on using Tasers.

Lt. Michael Ishii told The Times that police were called to Hawthorne Middle School after a student grabbed a counselor in a threatening manner and punched and kicked a security guard who intervened.

The boy, described as about 5 feet 7 and 130 to 150 pounds, threatened to kill staff members and continued assaulting the guard, who tried to protect other staffers, Ishii told the newspaper.

Officer Vincent Arias arrived at the school about 11:30 a.m. The boy, whose name was not released, continued behaving violently and kicked Arias in the groin as about 200 students looked on from the school grounds, Ishii told The Times.

School officials called the boy's adult sister to the site but she was unable to calm him, Ishii said. Arias, he said, fired a hand-held X26 Taser when the boy dashed toward the school's exit and the area where other students were in a physical education class.

The boy was not hurt, but his family complained, prompting the department to launch its investigation. The probe is examining whether the officer should have used an alternative method to detain the boy, Ishii told The Times.

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