Rochester Police Sparks Outrage After Video Footage Shows Officer Pepper-Spraying 'Suicidal' 9-Year-Old Girl

Rochester police claimed the girl refused to comply with orders of the officer asking her to put her feet inside the police cruiser, prompting the officer to spray her.

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Rochester Police is facing accusations of police brutality and excessive use of force after body-cam footage was released on Sunday morning.

The video footage shows a distraught 9-year-old girl being apprehended, handcuffed and put in the back of a Rochester Police Department patrol vehicle before being sprayed with a chemical "irritant" by an officer in the upstate New York City.

'I Want My Dad'

Rochester police
A still from the body-camera footage released by the Rochester Police Department. YouTube

In the first video clip of the incident, which took place on Friday, the young girl can be seen trying to run away from a male police officer before he catches up to her, detains her and tries to put her in the back of the cruiser as she continues to resist arrest. In the footage, the girl can also be heard arguing with her mother and becoming increasingly agitated.

"I want my dad," the girl screams in the second video. "I ain't going nowhere. I want my dad... I'm not getting in no car until I see my dad."

"Stop or you're going to get yourself hurt," a cop responds at one point during the lengthy ordeal. The officers at the scene then handcuff her before shoving her into the car. "You're acting like a child, an officer tells her, to which she responds, "I am a child, the f*ck?"

A female officer is then heard urging the girl to get inside the vehicle but she refuses to comply. "Just spray her at this point," one cop can be heard saying before the female officer proceeds to spray the girl before slamming the door of the vehicle shut.

"Please wipe my eyes," the girl screams. "Wipe my eyes, please." According to police, the girl refused to put her feet inside the cruise, prompting the officer to pepper-spray her. Watch the clip below:

The Girl Was 'Suicidal,' Threatened to Kill Her Mom

A total of nine officers and supervisors from the Rochester Police Department responded to reports of a family dispute on Friday afternoon. When officers arrived at the location, they were approached by the girl's mother, her custodial parent, who told an officer that she feared that her daughter would harm herself and others.

At Sunday's press conference, 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.

Outrage on Social Media

The body-cam footage has sparked backlash on social media with Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren leading the charge. Warren criticized the Rochester police department's handling of the situation and described the video as "disturbing."

"I'm not going to stand here and tell you that for a 9-year-old to have to be pepper-sprayed is OK," Rochester Police Chief Cynthia Herriott-Sullivan said Sunday. "It's not. I don't see that as who we are as a department."

Social media users followed suit, expressing their anger over the incident and calling for the officers involved to be jailed. Here are some of the reactions:

This is not the first time the city's police force has faced accusations of police brutality. Last year, Rochester police officers came under intense nationwide scrutiny after body-worn camera footage showed them putting a hood over the head of a black man, Daniel Prude, and pinning him against the pavement during what they claimed was a psychotic episode, as previously reported. Prude died a week later but the footage was released to the public months later.

This article was first published on February 1, 2021