A 9-year-old girl was handcuffed and sprayed in the face with a chemical irritant last week by police in Rochester, New York, according to newly released footage of the incident.
The incident, captured by police body cameras, shows several officers struggling to restrain the young girl, who was apparently suffering a mental episode, on Friday at her family’s home.
In total, nine police officers responded to reports of “family trouble” at the home on Friday, CBS News reported.
In videos of the arrest, the girl, whose face is blurred, can be heard screaming and resisting the officers’ attempts to restrain her. She was later handcuffed, placed in the back of a police cruiser, and pepper-sprayed in the face after she ignored officers’ demands, police said.
“Just spray her at this point,” one officer can be heard saying in a video of the encounter.
"I got her,” the officer can later be heard saying.
Throughout the footage, the girl can be heard frantically pleading for her father.
“I want my dad,” she yelled at the group of officers.
An ambulance later arrived and rushed her to Rochester General Hospital. She’s since received medical care and has been released, police said.
The incident prompted citywide outrage. In response, top police officials commented on the department’s response during a press briefing on Sunday.
"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," Rochester 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."
Officials have described the girl as suicidal.
"She indicated she wanted to kill herself and she wanted to kill her mom," Deputy Police Chief Andre Anderson said.
The city’s Police Accountability Board is now probing the incident.
“This video, as a mother, is not anything you want to see," Mayor Lovely Warren said, the Democrat and Chronicle reported. "I have a 10-year-old child, so she's a child, she's a baby.”
Warren said she was “very concerned” by officers’ treatment of the girl.
“It is clear from the video we need to do more in support of our children and families,” she added.
In 2020, the city’s police department was heavily criticized following the death of Daniel Prude, a Black father of five, who was suffocated by officers during an arrest in March. Prude’s death triggered mass protests and prompted the city to re-evaluate how police respond to individuals in psychological distress.
Rochester Police Department didn’t respond to multiple requests for comment by Oxygen.com on Monday.
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