[Warning: Video is Disturbing]
As seen on body cam video, police in Rochester, New York pepper sprayed a handcuffed 9-year-old girl on Friday.
“Wipe my eyes, please!” she cried out as an officer in the video shut the door on her.
“Unbelievable,” said the officer, walking to the rear of the patrol vehicle.
The follows the Rochester Police Department already facing criticism after the 2020 death of Daniel Prude, a mentally ill man who died after police put a spit hood over his head and pushed his face into the pavement.
Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren (D) called out the way officers acted in the new video involving the child.
“This is not something that any of us should want to justify,” she said in a press conference reported by 13 WHAM. “It’s something we have to change. It’s not an option; we must change how we do business. How we treat people. I know what it is like to be a member of a community that feels disadvantaged. That feels at every turn there’s harm, hurt and undervalued. I’m asking for everybody to understand, to hear, listen, empathize, most of all, to act differently. Do things differently.”
Deputy Police Chief Andre Anderson said the girl was suicidal, and wanted to kill her mother, according to NBC New York.
[Warning: Video is disturbing.]
As seen on video, an officer walked up to the child on a residential street. The 9-year-old did not want to speak to him. He ran up to her and grabbed her.
A woman–identified in the video as the child’s mother–got involved. She began arguing with the girl. The 9-year-old claimed her mom stabbed her dad, and that her father was holding his gut.
The mother said that the blood on her was her own, not the father’s. She denied stabbing him, and asserted the father attacked her. Things escalated, with the mother getting right in the 9-year-old’s face.
“I’ve got custody,” she said. “You’re my child, so you’re going to take your ass home right now, and you’re going to take your ass in the house.”
The officer separated them. As time passed, the situation spiraled.
More police arrived at the scene. The girl called out for her father as officers attempted to get her in a vehicle.
“You’re acting like a child,” said an officer.
“I am a child!” said the child.
The pivotal moment arrived when cops got the child mostly into the vehicle, but struggled to close the door. The 9-year-old said that the handcuffs were too tight.
“This is your last chance, otherwise pepper spray is going into your eyeballs,” said a female officer.
The girl continued to plead for her father.
“I want my dad,” she said. She continued to cry.
“Just spray her at this point,” said the point-of-view officer, a male.
That’s what happened.
“I got her,” he added.
Authorities did not release the names of the child, the mother, or the officers involved.
“I’m not going to stand here and tell you that for a 9-year-old to have to be pepper-sprayed is OK. It’s not,” Police Chief Cynthia Herriott-Sullivan said. “I don’t see that as who we are as a department, and we’re going to do the work we have to do to ensure that these kinds of things don’t happen.”
“He made a decision there that he thought was the best action to take. It resulted in no injury to her.”
— Rochester police union president Mike Mazzeo on the officer who pepper-sprayed a 9-year-old girl
— Democrat & Chronicle (@DandC) February 1, 2021
Officers said that the child was treated at a hospital and released to her family. The Rochester Police Accountability Board are investigating.
[Screengrab via Rochester Police Department]
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