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Officers armed with machine guns stop girl, 9

ANGRY: Kenyetta (front) with her sister Aisha and mum Sandra Golding

A NINE-YEAR-OLD girl fought back tears as she described how police officers armed with machine guns stopped her and her older sister as they walked back from shops just yards from their home.

Little Kenyetta Golding said she thought the police were going to shoot her 15-year-old sister Aisha after they separated them and started interrogating Aisha about an armed robbery, which had just happened nearby.

Their appalled mother Sandra, who was on the scene within minutes, found both her daughters in a distressed state after she said police had ordered Aisha to empty the contents of her shopping bag, mistakenly believing she had just carried out the raid.

“All they told me was there had been an armed robbery and Aisha matched the description,” said Sandra, a community development worker from Birmingham.

“But when they realised they had got the wrong person they didn’t even bother to apologise to us.

“I just cannot find the words to describe how I feel. We’re all in shock. It feels like we are now living in a police state and my children have no freedom.

“I was literally at home in the house over the road – they could have said to the girls ‘can we talk to your mum?’ but no, they had terrorise them like this,” she added.

The sisters were stopped at 11am in the morning after police followed them as they walked home from their local shops. Within seconds they were surrounded by up to ten officers who pulled up in several police vehicles and an unmarked car.

Elaina Cohen, a local community activist is now calling for West Midlands Police Chief Constable Chris Sims to visit the family at their Aston home and make a personal apology.

“When I first heard about this I thought it was some sort of urban myth,” she said. “The outrageous behaviour of these officers today has undone all the good community police work being carried out here, particularly in the wake of the recent riots.

“We’re having wall-to-wall community conferences since the disturbances but what good do they do if officers act like this? I want to see Chris Sims at the Golding’s home issuing a personal apology.

“The officers must have realised instantly that these girls were not the culprits, but they continued to question them and that constitutes harassment. They have been caught out harassing innocent kids.”

Ms Cohen also hit out at the police quizzing Aisha on why she had bought Paracetamol tablets, forcing her to explain that she needed them for period pains.

Aisha who later went on to pick up her GSCE results from Heartlands Academy where she gained two A stars, an A and two B grades, said: “The whole thing was really frightening. They just kept telling me my clothes matched the description of this armed robber.”

Earlier Kenyetta said: “The policeman who stopped us had a gigantic gun across his chest and a gun round his waist. I was so frightened they were going to shoot Aisha because they took her away from me and were asking her loads of questions. I was so glad when my mum came.”

Ms Cohen added: “The girls’ mum has acted with the utmost dignity despite her shock. They are a well-respected family around here who have a good relationship with their local neighbourhood police officer PC Booker. This incident, when it gets out, will certainly not help the community’s relationship with the police.”

A spokesman for West Midlands Police said a call was received at 10.31am on Thursday August 25th from a shop worker reporting an armed robbery at their store in Lichfield Road, Aston.

He said: “It is alleged that someone had entered the store with what was believed to be a firearm, robbed the shop worker of the contents of the till and fled. Police were given a description of the suspect.

“In accordance with force policy and in response to the potential threat to the public, a firearms unit was also deployed as part of the search. Two of these firearms officers, who were in Church Road, Aston, around 20 minutes after the offence was committed, came across a young person fitting the description of the suspect wearing similar clothing.

“One of the officers carried out a ‘stop and account.’ It was quickly established that the person who had been stopped was not the suspect and a ‘stop and search’ was therefore not considered necessary and did not take place.

“The course of action and the rationale for the ‘stop and account’ as well as the presence of firearms officers, was explained thoroughly to the parent of the 15-year-old.

“While we were aware of a nine-year-old girl who was nearby during the encounter, at no point was she spoken to as part of this inquiry.

“The safety of the public is of paramount importance for West Midlands police and the force will respond robustly to any threat which could involve firearms being used on our streets.”

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