Rochester Police Under Fire for Pepper Spraying a 9-Year-Old

Jourdyn Grandison | Staff Writer

Police officers in Rochester, New York, are under fire after pepper-spraying and handcuffing a nine-year-old girl while responding to a call of “family trouble.” 

Body camera footage, released on Sunday, show officers restraining the girl, putting her in handcuffs, and trying to get her into the back of a police car as she cries and calls for her father repeatedly. The officers then ask the girl to put her feet in the car, but after she fails to comply, they pepper-spray her. 

The video has led to public outrage and has resulted in the suspension of the officers involved.

“They should be fired,” said Elba Pope, the victim’s mother. “Regardless of what happened prior, there is no reason why a child should be pepper-sprayed when she is already detained in handcuffs in a car.”

The incident strikingly resembles Daniel Prude, an African American man who died in March after being pinned by Rochester police. Footage showed officers putting a hood over Prude’s head as he experienced a mental health crisis.

After the Prude incident, Mayor of Rochester, Lovely Warren, fired the police chief saying there was a “pervasive problem” in the police department.

In a press conference Sunday, the Interim Rochester Police Chief Cynthia Herriott-Sullivan said that the girl’s treatment was not acceptable.

“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,” said Herriott-Sullivan in the press conference. “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.”

Mayor Warren said the girl reminded her of her daughter. 

“I have a 10-year-old daughter. So she’s a child; she’s a baby. And I can tell you that this video, as a mother, is not anything you want to see. It’s not,” said Warren during the press conference. “We have to understand compassion, empathy. When you have a child that is suffering in this way and calling out for her dad, I saw my baby’s face in her face.”

The victim arrived at the Rochester General Hospital, and was later released, according to Rochester Deputy Police Chief Andre Anderson.

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