In October 2013, An 8 year old Rosebud Sioux girl was shot by a stun gun when Pierre Police arrived on scene and were not able to obtain a paring knife the young girl was holding. In the days that followed, the family of the little girl reported she was suffering from trauma, while the Pierre Police Chief Bob Granpre said the actions of the Police were justified.
Since the incident, family members have secured the use of Dana Hanna and Patrick Duffy as attorneys in the South Dakota area and the tribe has spoken out against the incident. The Pierre police after releasing initial findings will no longer offer comment on the matter after inquiries by ICTMN.
Rose Stenstrom, the grandmother of the little girl and a member of the Rosebud Sioux Tribal council, says she was upset that her little granddaughter was a delightful and talkative little girl who some media outlets made out to be a monster.
“My granddaughter is really just a friendly little girl,” says Stenstrom. “She talks a lot. Because she likes to talk, you could change her mind really easy. I have been around her, she is not anywhere near what people describe her as. They made her out to be a little monster and she is not.”
Stenstrom also said the response to the original situation was not handled with any sort of professionalism.
“Four police officers responded to this...To a little girl who stands maybe only 4 feet tall. All you have to do is grab her arm and correct the situation. I feel that these guys must not have been in their right minds. At that age, children are very easily talked into changing their minds. I find it ridiculous because I just don't see how this could happen.”
“In one of the articles, the police chief stated that their office was justified in what they did. They have batons and handguns, the police chief named off a number of things they could have used; this is someone who has no brains. One of the people involved in this entire situation was an instructor of the police training facility.”
“Which makes me think, Oh my God were these guys just practicing?” remarked Senstrom.
Cyril Scott, President of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe also told ICTMN, the Pierre Police acted in a way that was unprofessional and the family is appropriate in filing a lawsuit.
“The family has a lawsuit against the police and it is a sad day when a Native American child is shocked in our state capital in the middle of Indian country at that. Not only the Rosebud Sioux tribe, not only the family... But everyone should be appalled at the way our children are being treated nowadays,” said Scott.
“We tell our children not to do violence and to not be a part of violence, but if they get into trouble they are subjected to this violence. They are treating our children like they are hardened criminals nowadays.”
“On behalf of the Rosebud Sioux tribe, I say our position is we should not treat Native American children or any children of any race in this manner. We hold our Native American children on the highest pedestal, as any parent or any family should do.”
“This little girl was eight years old. It was a little girl you could just put your arms around her. I hope the man that did this to her thinks about it every day. I wonder how he would feel if someone tazed his daughter,” he said.
According to the family attorney’s the acts committed by the police were atrocious and the proper steps to file suit and seek damages are currently in the works.
According to Hannah, both he and Duffy will be investigating the backgrounds of all the police officers involved, the training or lack thereof provided to law enforcement officers in the Pierre and the use of tazers. Hanna and Duffy have also contacted and contracted an expert on the use of tazers.
“We will particularly be investigating with regard to the use of tazers on children, which simply should not happen,” says Hanna.
“Tazers are not meant to be lethal weapons, but they are lethal weapons they have killed people from time to time. Our investigation and our expert lead us to the conclusion that tazers should never be used on children,” says Hanna.
“If you look at the facts, there were other ways to stop this. Rule number one is reaching out to grab her hand and I haven't even been to cop school. These are trained professional law enforcement officers and there were four of them within close proximity to that girl. Not one of them thought to reach out and grab her, or talk her down... They came in there and dealt with her like she was a 30-year-old street thug. "Drop the knife or else!"
"No Indian cop in S.D. would ever shoot an Indian girl with a tazer gun, Draw your own conclusion on that statement," Hanna said.
Duffy agrees with his fellow attorney that the Pierre Police acted unprofessional.
“It is absolutely barbaric that four adult police officers would surround a 71-pound eight-year-old little Indian girl and shoot her in the chest with 50,000 volts of electricity,” he said.
“I have 7 sons and 9 grandkids. I might have tried to talk to her for a minute or two. I don't need a baton. Depending on what her response was, I probably would have reached out like an adult and grabbed her arm and said 'that is enough of that.'
“The problem with the police response in this case and everything they have said has been designed for justification. If the only choice is between tazing and pistol whipping her, yes I guess it would make sense, but we have a lot more choices as adults,” he said. “They did not use any of these adult responses.”