Reserve officer Dennis Turner was officially fired from the Orlando Police Department on Monday after he arrested two 6-year-old children without approval from a commanding officer last week.
Orlando Police Chief Orlando Rolón announced Turner’s termination on Monday in a press conference — regardless of an ongoing investigation into the incident — after he failed to follow departmental policy that requires officers to obtain approval from a supervisor before arresting anyone younger than 12 years old.
Turner had been suspended immediately following the arrests.
“This will not stop,” Rolón said of the investigation. “But at my level, I have the opportunity to be able to exercise that and when I came in today, I knew there was no choice here. He was going to be terminated.”
He also added, “I was sick to my stomach when I heard this. … We were all appalled.”
As a reserve officer, Turner served at the will of the chief of police — meaning Rolón had the authority to fire him before the end of the investigation, the chief told NBC.
The Orlando Police Department did not immediately respond to PEOPLE’s request for comment.
On Thursday, Sept. 19, Turner arrested two 6-year-olds, one boy and one girl, in two separate incidents at Lucious and Emma Nixon Academy in Orlando, despite the principal’s request not to do so, The New York Times reported.
“I was sick to my stomach when I heard this,” Chief Rolón told the outlet. “We could not fathom the idea of a 6-year-old being put in the back of a police car.”
The young girl’s grandmother spoke out after the incident, telling WKMG that she had received a call from Turner after her granddaughter allegedly kicked a staff member while acting out in class. He then told her that he would be arresting the young girl for battery.
“No 6-year-old child should be able to tell somebody that they had handcuffs on them and they were riding in a police car to be fingerprinted (and have a) mugshot (taken),” Meralyn Kirkland told WKMG about her granddaughter, Kaia Rolle on Friday.
According to NBC, the other 6-year-old boy was arrested and processed in a separate incident, and later released to a relative.
The children were both charged with misdemeanor battery, though State Attorney for the Ninth Judicial Circuit Aramis D. Ayala told reporters Monday that her office had no intention of prosecuting the children.
“I refuse to knowingly play any role in the school-to-prison pipeline at any age,” Ayala said. “These very young children are to be protected, nurtured and disciplined in a manner that does not rely on the criminal justice system to do it.”
“This is not a reflection of the children, but more of a reflection of a broken system that needs reform,” Ayala added.
In the news conference on Monday, Rolón also apologized to the families involved and the community for the breach of trust.
“On behalf of myself and the entire Orlando Police Department, I apologize to the children involved and their families,” he said. “As a grandfather of three children less than 11 years old, I can only imagine how traumatic this was for everyone involved.”