Why is it always Florida? Letina Smith, a 41-year-old woman from Kissimmee, Florida is facing abuse charges after being accused of using a stun gun to discipline children, who are reportedly relatives, in her care. Klassy.
Smith was not only accused of using a stun-gun, she also allegedly made the three kids, ages nine, eight and seven sit against a wall “like they would in a chair” minus the chair, which sounds like the most uncomfortable position ever. If they moved out of the position, Smith allegedly zapped them with the stun gun, and called it the “electric chair” because apparently they don’t teach creativity in Florida (unless it’s how to creatively make an appearance on the show Cops).
The most heartbreaking part of this story is that the abuse was uncovered when one of the children became overwhelmed with fear after school officials threatened to make a call home to talk to the child’s parents about a behavior problem. According to an affidavit quoted in the Orlando Sentinel:
“(She) explained that the punishment was to get touched with a ‘taser. The electric chair consists of the child who is in trouble holding themselves… with their back on the wall and their legs forming a chair. They have to stay there for an hour and if they speak or move Letina will come up to them with the electrical weapon, ‘taser*,’ and activate and touch them with it.”
The report goes on to say that the device was less strong than a traditional stun gun, which is little consolation considering that it was still allegedly used on elementary school aged kids. Smith admits to holding the device “menacingly” towards the kids, but insists that it wasn’t used on them. Seeing as there weren’t any marks on the kids (which proves nothing) the charges might not stick, but the story seems pretty detailed for something three kids supposedly made up. Also, apparently at least one of the kids was able to describe how the device worked, which isn’t something he should understand if it was used to simply threaten the kids (which would be bad enough on its own). All in all, stay classy Florida.
*UPDATE* It’s been brought to my attention that TASER is a name brand and not a generic name for that type of device. I received a (slightly menacing) sounding email from a man named Steve Tuttle, the VP of communications for TASER that went as follows:
I just read your story Classy Florida Caregiver Charged With Using A Taser To Discipline Kids. Please recognize that TASER® is a registered trademark and it is also a product manufactured ONLY by TASER International which is located in Scottsdale, AZ. The device should be classified as a stun gun and not a “TASER.”
The device in question is not a TASER® brand device.
Can you please immediately correct the headline and the story by removing any reference to TASER brand products? In the future, please describe it generically by stating it is a stun gun.