Police in Rochester, New York have released body camera footage showing officers restraining a distressed nine-year-old girl, who was also handcuffed and pepper sprayed.
The incident happened on Wednesday. Police responded to a call about a family disturbance, and arrived at a residence to find the girl’s parent, who said the girl had threatened to harm herself and others.
“She indicated she wanted to kill herself and she wanted to kill her mum,” Deputy Police Chief Andre Anderson said during a media conference yesterday.
The girl resisted as officers tried to take her into custody, repeatedly screaming that she wanted her father.
“I’m not getting in no car until I see my dad,” she tells the officers in the body cam footage.
A physical struggle ensues, ending with the girl face down in the snow while officers handcuff her hands behind her back.
They then bring her back to her feet and try to get her into a police car. She continues to say that she wants her father.
“Get in the car,” one of the officers shouts at her.
“You’ve had your chances,” says another.
There is a lot of screaming as they attempt to physically force her into the car.
“Stop. You’re acting like a child,” an officer says.
Eventually, a female officer arrives and takes a less physical approach, attempting to calm her down.
“I’m going to get your dad, OK, but you need to get warm, otherwise you’re going to get hypothermia,” she says.
“I’ll get your dad. I promise. But look at me, I can’t find your dad until you sit back so I can close the door, OK? I will find your dad, I promise.”
The girl continues to refuse to put her legs in the car. The officers tell her it’s her last chance, before trying to push her further inside. She screams at them to stop.
“Just spray her. Just spray her at this point,” one of them says. Another officer does it, hitting her in the face with pepper spray.
“I got her. I got her,” he says.
“My eyes,” the girl yells, at which point the officers close the car doors and she can longer be heard.
Yesterday, Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren told reporters she was “very concerned” about how police had handled the young girl.
“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,” Ms Warren said.
The police department, for its part, has said the girl was handcuffed at the request “of the custodial parent on scene”, and then officers were “required” to use “irritant” as she defied their commands.
She was taken to Rochester General Hospital before being released to her family.
At yesterday’s media conference, Police Chief Cynthia Herriott-Sullivan did not defend the officers’ actions.
“I’m not going to stand here and tell you that for a nine-year-old to have to be pepper sprayed is OK. It’s not,” she said.
“We’re going to do the work we have to do to ensure that these kinds of things don’t happen.”