10-year-old handcuffed during drug arrest in Middletown

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MIDDLETOWN--A young girl was put in handcuffs when a family friend she was with was arrested in Middletown.

Kenneth Ford, 27, of Middletown, is a friend of the girl's mother and was helping drive the fifth grader to basketball practice.

According to the arraignment report from the Middletown Police Department, on Wednesday, Dec. 17, the department's narcotics unit tried to serve Ford, a convicted felon, with an active arrest warrant. The warrant was for a separate incident and had charges of possession of narcotics, sale of narcotics, engaging police in a pursuit and reckless driving. Detectives located Ford at the Woodrow Wilson Middle School at around 7:45 p.m. and saw him go into the school, where he stayed for several minutes.

Police continued to follow Ford for an hour as he drove his Nissan Altima (with Colorado license plates) to Biefield Street and Hunting Hill Avenue. Ford first went to Biefield, where he met with someone in a Jeep Wrangler. Police saw Ford hand the other person an item, and the other person gave him money. Ford then drove back to the school and went inside.

Several minutes later Ford came out of the school and drove to an apartment on Hunting Hill Avenue. He met with another person in a Mercedes station wagon, and after the interaction drove back to the school.

At around 8:45 p.m. Ford left the school with a female, who was later identified as a 10-year-old girl. The two got in the car and drove to the South Main Liquor Store, located at 714 South Main St. Ford left the car running with the girl inside and went into the liquor store.

At this point police decided to engage the suspect, and waited outside the store for him. When he came out the police identified themselves and one detective drew a gun. Ford is a convicted felon who is known to carry handguns.

Ford was then handcuffed. Meanwhile, the girl was in the car screaming. A detective asked her to get out of the car, and then put her in handcuffs. Ford asked the detective to call the girl's mother, who verified that she was 10 years old. According to Canna Chaney, the girl's mother, the handcuffs were on her daughter for a while before she received the call. After Chaney confirmed the girl's age the detective "immediately" took the handcuffs off the girl and put her in the back of an unmarked police car.

Police took the girl to the police station to be picked up  by her mother. When Chaney arrive she was "irate and complained that her daughter was handcuffed," according to the arraignment report from the Middletown Police Department.

Canaa Chaney, the girl's mother, says Ford is an old friend and was helping her out because she just moved to Connecticut from North Carolina three weeks ago and doesn't have a car.

"They watched him pick her up, so, what grownup is going to basketball practice? It's at the middle school," Chaney said.

Cory Brinson, the lawyer that Chaney retained in this case, said police picked an inappropriate time to arrest Ford. "They watched him pick her up from the school. They could have executed this warrant at another time, but did not and put her in harm's way. Threw her up against the car, handcuffed her, drew their guns and scared her half to death. It didn't have to happen like that," Brinson said.

When police searched the car and Ford they found four cell phones, gold teeth, seven baggies of crack cocaine weighing .565 ounces and $2882 in cash. The crack was valued at $1,600. Police deduced that Ford was directly involved in the sale and trafficking of large amounts of crack cocaine because of the drugs and the amount of money he had despite not having a job.

The drugs were in plain view, and reach, of Ford's juvenile daughter.

Lt. Heather Desmond, the Middletown Police spokesperson, told Fox Connecticut that this case is more complicated. Desmond said it was a high-risk felony warrant for a man who was known to carry handguns, that it was dark outside and that police didn't know the girl's age.

Desmond defended the officers, saying the girl is tall and big for her age and was screaming at the time she was handcuffed. Chaney allowed that her daughter could pass for 12 years old, but that she certainly doesn't look 18. She said her daughter speaks softly and has a child-like face. Two employees at the liquor store where the incident occurred said the girl did appear very tall and much older than 10.

Officers said they handcuffed her for safety during what was a chaotic situation.

Ford was held on a $100,000 bond for the charges on the initial arrest warrant and $1 million bond for the new charges, which included possession of more than 1/2 ounce of narcotics with intent to sell, distribution of a controlled substance with 1,500 feet of a school, possession of narcotics and risk of injury to a minor.

Despite the charges against Ford, Brinson says the incident is troubling all the same. "I think my client would have a very good claim for false arrest, wrongful imprisonment by the police. I think her civil rights were violated." He says he will contact the Middletown city attorneys, and if a resolution isn't reached he may file a lawsuit.

Ford has previously been convicted for assault in the first degree, assault in the second degree, running from police, possession of narcotics, operating under the influence, weapon in a motor vehicle and violation of probation. He also has a case pending for reckless endangerment from another pursuit with police.

Chaney says her daughter is still scared from the incident and stayed home from school on Thursday. The girl will begin therapy soon.

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