Two officers at the Groveland Police Department are currently being investigated for claims of using excessive force on an 11-year old girl. Officers James Festa and John Rigdon responded to a burglar alarm on Jan. 25 at the youngster’s home. Guirand said his daughter told him both Festa and Rigdon came into her room without identifying themselves and quickly pointed their weapons at her and pushed his child to the ground and placed their knees in her back. The incident took place while the young girl was watching television on her bed inside of her bedroom. The girl’s father, Jean Guirand claimed he went to see what was going on after hearing noises coming from down the hallway of his home near his daughter’s room. Later in the day after the incident, Guirand promptly filed a citizen’s complaint once his daughter informed him of what took place.
Guirand told ABC affiliate WFTV today, he never heard the officers entering his home due to working in his home office and was looking after his 21-month-old son. Guirand stated:
I just want to get justice for the young child. When she talks about it she cries … she had to stay home from school one day because she woke up not feeling good and said that she was upset right now and afraid
According to Guirand, his daughter disabled the home’s security system earlier on that day but for some reason it showed up as a burglary in process. The alarm company contacted Guirand’s wife, Lisa Pierre-Louis, who happened to be at work. The company asked Lisa if she wanted the police to respond, which she agreed to. In Festa’s police report, he claims he and his partner knocked and rang the doorbell before they entered the home from a opened door inside the garage. Festa curiously doesn’t mention he and Rigdon’s encounter with the little girl inside her room. Police Chief Melvin Tennyson has stated the department is currently reviewing the matter and started an investigation on Jan 28, with internal affairs. So far, both officers have yet to be placed on administrative leave or suspended from duty. Watch the interview below.