It’s Complicated: Police Officer Saves Suicidal 8-Year-Old by Using a Taser, Mother Sues Police Department

Screen Shot 2014-08-10 at 8.00.42 AMEditor’s Note: A suicidal 8-year-old girl with a knife was tased by a police officer. It’s understandable that the mother is unhappy with the situation, but this obviously isn’t your standard case of excessive force.

A mother is suing the city of Pierre, it’s former police chief and members of its police department, saying an officer used excessive force and violated her 8-year-old daughter’s rights when he shot her in the chest with a stun gun.

Dawn Stenstrom is seeking unspecified damages in the suit filed in federal court in late July.

Authorities say the officer shot the girl with the stun gun from 5 to 6 feet away because she was suicidal and brandished a knife.

‘The force of the electricity shot through her body, lifted her and threw her against the wall,’ the lawsuit says.

The state Division of Criminal Investigation later concluded that the officer was justified in using his Taser on the girl because it was the safest method to defuse the situation.

Dana Hanna, an attorney for Stenstrom, told the Rapid City Journal that the girl suffered physical, psychological and emotional injuries.

‘There is no excuse for cops to use a Taser on an 8-year-old child,’ Hanna said.

Attorney Rob Anderson, who is representing the defendants in the lawsuit, told The Associated Press on Friday that he does not comment on pending litigation.

The mother and child now live on the Rosebud Indian Reservation, according to Hanna.

At the time of the incident, the the police chief is defended the action – saying the girl was a threat to the officer and to herself and that the Taser jolt actually saved her life.

Three officers responded to the girl’s home in Pierre, South Dakota, after a babysitter dialed 911 and reported that the girl was suicidal and stabbing herself in the leg with a 4-and-a-half-inch kitchen knife.

Police Chief Bob Grandpre said his officers responded according to protocol.

This article continues at


Join the conversation!

We have no tolerance for comments containing violence, racism, vulgarity, profanity, all caps, or discourteous behavior. Thank you for partnering with us to maintain a courteous and useful public environment where we can engage in reasonable discourse.