Why was a 9-year-old thrown in adult jail?

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Latoya Harris’ daughter was arrested about a year ago for allegedly shoving another girl’s head into a brick wall at the Boys and Girls Club in Columbia Village.

When her daughter was arrested, she was still in a wet bathing suit. She was handcuffed, put in the back of a police car and taken to the Central Precinct in downtown Portland.

And she was 9.

After the district attorney reviewed the case, no charges were ever filed.

Now, Harris is planning to sue police over the arrest.

She said her daughter was humiliated as she was marched before her friends to a police car and she’s had to change schools because of the incident.

“It was the fact that I couldn’t protect my daughter from the very people that are supposed to be protecting us, the shame and the fear on her face,” she said. “It hurts.”

Police won’t talk publicly about the arrest but said they don’t have firm age guidelines when it comes to arresting people. Handcuffs in the back of a patrol car is not only a matter of policy, they said, but a matter of safety for everyone in the car.

Juvenile public defender Joseph Hagedorn told KOIN 6 News he thinks police made a series of wrong decisions. It started with the arrest and ended with a 9-year-old girl in a jail cell.

“You have a 9-year-old, you have a safe home, you can make a referral to the juvenile department,” he said. “You have plenty of options at your fingertips as a police officer.”

Asked if there’s any reason to put a 9-year-old in a regular adult facility, he said, “I don’t think so.”

Harris said her daughter was a straight-A student and didn’t deserve this kind of treatment.

“Just want to cry right now just thinking about it,” she said.

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