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Toddler hit by police Taser during father's arrest

A child was struck with a police Taser Tuesday night as officers attempted to arrest the boy's father.

SCHUYLKILL HAVEN, Pa. — Three officers from three different departments responded to a home on North Garfield Avenue in Schuylkill Haven Tuesday night for a reported burglary. Police say what they found was that Joshua King had entered his parent's home with his 18-month-old son and told his parents the toddler needed food. 

Police say King smashed glass inside and destroyed some interior doors.

Here's what court documents say happened next: King barricaded himself inside the home when police approached and fought with the officers to keep them from coming in. He picked up his son and retreated to a back bedroom.

The Schuylkill Haven police chief says King was using his son as a human shield while fighting with officers inside one of the home's bedrooms. During that skirmish, a taser was deployed, and the prongs ended up in that 18-month-old's leg.

An officer managed to pull the child from King's arms before King ran outside. Police found king Walking in the playground behind the home. He ran to his pickup truck and locked the doors. Police broke through the windows and arrested him.

A neighbor tells Newswatch 16 she's seen King and his son walking in the neighborhood.

"I started seeing him bringing his little boy up and going up the cemetery hill. But they say he's been a bad guy."

Police say the child was taken to the hospital for a minor injury and was released.

Paul Robinson lives down the street. He was surprised to hear the news.

"If they are risking a baby in someone's arms and they need to stop someone, I can't imagine that they would still Taser him."

King has been charged with trespassing, burglary, assault, and endangering a child.

Schuylkill Haven's police chief says King was shocked with the Taser six times between the three officers, once while holding his son.

"A child could get killed with a Taser, in my impression," Robinson said. "If it can bring a 200-or 300-pound man down, what's it going to do to a little baby?"

The police chief says the department is reviewing the use of force in this case, per protocol. Schuylkill County District Attorney Michael O'Pake says he believes officers followed their departments' use-of-force policies appropriately, but the D.A. is also taking part in the review.

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