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SD State’s Attorney says Tasering Girl Was Best Option; Family Outraged

Two months after an 8-year-old girl was tasered by a Pierre, South Dakota police officer, state attorney Wendy Kloeppner said it was the best option.

Two months after an 8-year-old girl was tasered by a Pierre, South Dakota police officer in October of 2013, Hughes County State’s Attorney Wendy Kloeppner released a report which stated “she was satisfied with an independent investigation, deploying a taser was the best viable way to diffuse the situation,” and no charges would be filed against the officer or the child.

In a response to the report, which also includes a copy of the Pierre Police Department’s report, attorneys for the family, Dana Hanna and Patrick Duffy, told ICTMN the acts committed by the police were atrocious and that they do not believe the report accurately reflects what happened.

In addition, the mother of the child, Dawn Stenstrom, and the grandmother, Rose Stenstrom, have shared their emotionally charged outrage with ICTMN, claiming that several statements by the police were inaccurate and that the tasering of the girl could have easily been avoided.

Stenstrom says that the officers must not have made much effort to calm her daughter because she was tasered within two minutes of the police officers arriving on the scene.

As ICTMN reported last month, in October four Pierre police officers responded to a 911 call about an 8-year-old girl wielding a knife. The call came from the babysitter of the Rosebud Sioux girl, who told the dispatcher the girl was trying to cut herself. The officers, according to the police report, were on the scene for just two minutes before tasering the youth.

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“The material facts are fairly undisputed, they walked in, they saw a child holding a small kitchen knife throwing a tantrum and they shot her with 50,000 volts of electricity with a weapon that put two hooks into her,” Hanna said.

He also claims that the babysitter’s 911 statement that the little girl was cutting herself were not true. “There was no cutting at all, this was a child throwing a tantrum,” says Hanna. The report does state that the dispatcher asked the babysitter if there was any signs of blood, to which the babysitter responded “no.”

Dawn Stenstrom says her daughter is a sweetheart and the police contention that she was suicidal is untrue. “Everybody knows my daughter, she is a very energetic and loves meeting people. She is a total sweetheart. She can talk your ear off, that is for sure.”

“I just don't understand why they say she was suicidal or why they just couldn't have called me,” says Stenstrom. “I was a delivery driver at that time and it would not have taken me very much time to get through the city of Pierre. I would think that would have been the first thing they would do is to give me a call and let me know what is going on because I could be the one to settle her down. Obviously they had my number because after they tasered her they called me.”