6-year-old Salecia Johnson
MILLEDGEVILLE, Ga. -- Milledgeville's police chief is standing by his officer's decision to handcuff a kindergartener while community activists call for a thorough investigation.
"There needs to be something done about it," activist Oscar Davis said. "It needs to be investigated by the state. It needs to be investigated federally."
Last Friday, police were called to Creekside Elementary School in Milledgeville to help teachers handle an unruly child. The principal told an officer that 6-year-old Salecia Johnson had been pushing students and throwing items off of the teacher's desk.
A police report states that once inside the principal's office, the child "began tearing up other items off of the walls and throwing furniture." A small shelf struck the principal in the leg.
The report says when he tried to calm the kindergartner, she resisted and fought with the officer.
The officer wrote that he handcuffed Johnson "for her safety" as well as the safety of others.
"I'm really shocked because I never heard of a 6-year-old being arrested and put in handcuffs just for misbehaving at school," said Constance Ruff, the child's mother.
"The principal, anybody at the school, if they can't handle a 6-year-old, they don't need to be there," said Ernest Johnson, the child's father.
In a statement read to the media Tuesday afternoon, Milledgeville's acting police chief Dray Swicord said the officer noted the damage to the principal's office before placing the child in handcuffs.
"He placed the student in handcuffs for the student's safety as well as others," Swicord said. "The student's safety was the utmost importance."
Swicord noted that while transported to the police department, the 6-year-old was never placed in a cell and will not face any charges because of her age.
Swicord did not answer any questions about the incident.
School officials said they tried to contact members of the child's family before summoning police but failed to reach anyone.
Oscar Davis disputes that claim.
"The school never called the parents," Davis said.
Johnson's mother told 11Alive's Macon sister station WMAZ she received calls on her cell phone but could not answer since it was out of minutes.
Davis said the child had misbehaved in the past, but said that was normal for a child of that age. He questioned claims that Johnson injured the principal, insisting they should release any related hospital records.
Davis said they planned to get local attorneys involved, and that they had planned to contact national activist Rev. Al Sharpton.
The Baldwin County's School Superintendent released a statement Tuesday insisting that the school had tried to contact several members of Johnson's family prior to the child being handcuffed.
"The Milledgeville Police Department was ultimately called to assist due to safety concerns for the student, other classmates, and the school staff," the statement reads.
A juvenile complaint form was filed on the child for simple battery on a school teacher, damage to property, and unruly child. Police notified the Department of Family and Children Services.
(WMAZ Macon contributed to this report.)