Police in Rochester released two body-camera videos Sunday of officers restraining a distraught 9-year-old girl who was handcuffed and sprayed with what police called a chemical “irritant.”
The Democrat and Chronicle reported that prior to the release of the videos, Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren expressed her concern for the “child that was harmed during this incident that happened on Friday.”
“I have a 10-year-old child, so she’s a child, she’s a baby. This video, as a mother, is not anything you want to see," Warren went on to say.
A total of nine officers and supervisors responded to the report of “family trouble” on Friday. The girl can be heard in the body-camera videos from officers at the scene screaming frantically for her father as the officers try to restrain her.
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At a news conference Sunday, Deputy Police Chief Andre Anderson described the girl as suicidal.
“She indicated she wanted to kill herself and she wanted to kill her mom,” he said.
Officers tried to force the girl into a patrol car but she pulled away and kicked at them. In a statement Saturday, the police department said this action “required” an officer to take the girl down to the ground. Then, the department said, “for the minor’s safety and at the request of the custodial parent on scene,” the child was handcuffed and put in the back of a police car as they waited for an ambulance to arrive.
Police said the girl disobeyed commands to put her feet in the car. An officer was then “required” to spray an “irritant” in the handcuffed girl’s face, the department said Saturday.
At Sunday’s news conference, Police Chief Cynthia Herriott-Sullivan described the irritant as pepper spray. She declined to defend the officers' actions.
“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," 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.”
Police said the girl was eventually taken to Rochester General Hospital, “where she received the services and care that she needed,” and was later released to her family.
The Rochester Police Accountability Board (PAB) is reviewing the incident, it announced on Sunday.
"Our community needs to see exactly what happened on Avenue B," PAB Executive Director Conor Dwyer Reynolds said in a statement.
The Rochester Police Department has faced scrutiny since the death of Daniel Prude last year after officers from the department put a hood over his head and pressed his face into the pavement.
If you or someone you know is at risk of suicide please call the U.S. National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255, text TALK to 741741 or go to SpeakingOfSuicide.com/resources for additional resources.