Video, in which police handcuffed and pepper sprayed a nine-year-old girl in Rochester, northeastern United States, sparked new outrage over disproportionate methods used by security forces .
Rochester, New York City Police justified the action by claiming the girl, whose identity has not been disclosed, was suffering from a serious mental health emergency and was threatening to kill her mother and commit suicide.
Agents were called in to resolve a “family problem” on Friday afternoon (29). Upon arriving, they found the girl in a black sweatshirt and colorful leggings, according to the New York Times. She “indicated that she wanted to kill herself and that she wanted to kill her mother,” said Andre Anderson, one of the chiefs of police.
The girl tried to escape and screamed that she wanted her father. Once thrown in the snow and handcuffed, she asked the officers to stop.
Then the police tried to put her in a car to take her to the hospital, but the girl refused and repeated that she wanted to see her father. She kicked one of the guards, according to Anderson.
At one point in the recording, a policeman says “you are acting like a child”. And she answers “I am a child”.
At least six vehicles came to the scene, in a residential area of the city. The police asked the girl to calm down. One of them said “just spray it”. Then an officer threw pepper spray at the girl.
The girl was then placed in the back seat of a car and taken to hospital, from where she was discharged.
Police showed the footage around 48 hours after the incident and said it was an example of the institution’s efforts to become more transparent. The girl’s face was blurred in the video to protect her identity.
“I’m not going to come here and say it’s normal for a nine-year-old to be the target of pepper spray,” said Cynthia Herriott-Sullivan, current local police chief.
Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren condemned the use of force against children and promised an internal investigation into municipal police practices. “I have a 10 year old son. He’s a child, a baby. As a mother, this video is not something you want to watch,” he said.
This is the second time in less than a year that law enforcement in Rochester has been charged with violent acts against citizens. In March, Daniel Prude, 41, died after falling into a coma following his violent detention.
Police put a balaclava over his head after spitting on officers and claiming to have the coronavirus. The death of Prude, who also suffered from a mental health crisis at the time of her arrest, sparked an investigation and large protests in the city. The video below shows scenes from this approach.