Body camera footage has been released after police in Rochester, New York pepper-sprayed a nine-year-old girl who they say was suicidal. But the city’s mayor and police chief both said the actions are concerning.
On a frigid late January afternoon, Rochester, N.Y., police responded to a reported domestic disturbance on the city’s north side. Thirty minutes later, a 9-year-old girl was handcuffed, forced into a squad car, and pepper-sprayed in her eyes.
Police body camera footage of the encounter sparked outrage and fresh scrutiny of how police treat people in distress.
Now, the mother is intending to sue based on an alleged violation of her daughter’s constitutional rights and as a result of the “infliction of emotional distress, assault, battery, excessive force, false arrest, false imprisonment, and any other claims” that day.
The woman originally called 911 due to a “vehicle dispute” at her home, the notice of claim stated. After police arrived, her daughter ran outside and the mother requested the help of officers because the daughter was “upset about her mother and step-father arguing,” the claim said.
According to police, the daughter was threatening to harm herself and her mother.
We are not publishing the name of the mother to protect the identity of the 9-year-old child who is a minor.
The police body camera video shows numerous police cars and officers on the snowy scene. After being restrained on the ground, the girl, wearing flowered leggings and a black sweatshirt, asks, “Can you please get the snow off of me? It’s cold.”
“You had your chance,” one officer tells her, while another shouts, “Get in the car now!”
“Officer, please don’t do this to me,” the little girl pleads.
In response, the officer says: “You did it to yourself, hon.”
Mayor Lovely Warren met with the interim police chief, Cynthia Herriott-Sullivan, before announcing the disciplinary action.
“What happened Friday was simply horrible, and has rightly outraged all of our community,” Warren said in a statement. “Unfortunately, state law and union contract prevents me from taking more immediate and serious action.”
Remember, this is a nine-year-old girl who was handcuffed and attacked with pepper spray.
“If you stick your head towards the window, the cold air is going to feel nice,” an officer tells the traumatized girl, indicating that she should stick her head out of the window like a dog.
“It’s burning too bad,” the girl said.
“It’s supposed to burn. It’s called pepper spray,” the officer fires back.
In response, another officer said: “Holy Toledo, that was crazy.”
The girl was then taken to a Rochester hospital and has since been released to her family. One police officer was suspended from duty. Two other Rochester cops were placed on administrative leave.
Mayor Lovely A Warren was shocked by how the officers treated the nine-year-old child. “I continue to share our community’s outrage for the treatment of this child and have ensured that she and her family have been connected to the support they need through our Person in Crisis team.”
Mayor Warren said she has directed the chief of police to conduct a complete and thorough investigation of the incident and said she welcomes the review of what happened by the city’s police accountability board.
After Monday’s officer suspensions, she said what happened was “simply horrible.”
Watch the video below for more details: