Some of the Rochester police officers involved in an incident on Friday in which a handcuffed 9-year-old girl was pepper-sprayed have been suspended, the Rochester Democrat & Chronicle reports.
City Director of Communications Justin Roj made the announcement Monday afternoon, saying the suspensions are effective immediately and will continue at least until the department completes an internal review.
Roj said the officers have been suspended with full pay, per state law. He did not say how many of the nine officers who responded to the “family trouble” call on Friday were suspended and did not release any names, noting that interim Police Chief Cynthia Herriott-Sullivan had not completed her preliminary review of the incident.
Officials released two body-camera videos from the incident on Sunday and said the call also involved a possible stolen car.
As CrimeOnline previously reported, the unidentified Rochester police officer sprayed the girl after she refused to put her feet in the patrol car. The girl’s mother reportedly claimed the girl said she wanted to kill herself and her mother.
The Democrat & Chronicle said the decision to suspended officers came after Herriott-Sullivan met with Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren, who said she intended to work with state legislators to change the state’s civil service law to “allow cities to more quickly issue discipline in cases like this one.
“What happened Friday was simply horrible, and has rightly outraged, all of our community,” Warren said.
Officers responded to the “family trouble” call, and the 9-year-old reportedly fled the home on foot before an officer apprehended her nearby. The girl grew more upset after her mother — the custodial parent — arrived and the pair started to argue.
In the second of two videos released by Rochester police, the handcuffed 9-year-old is overheard screaming that she wants her father and to get the snow off of her.
“You’re acting like a child,” a male officer is heard saying during the scuffle.
“I am a child, the f**k,” the girl screams.
As the girl continues to scream for her father, a female officer threatens to pepper-spray her if she does not put her legs in the patrol car. “Just spray her at this point,” one officer says, and a male officer is seen spraying the girl in the eyes before closing the car doors on her as she asks officers to wipe her eyes.
The department said Saturday that the officer was “required” to spray an “irritant” in the girl’s face when she disobeyed repeated commands to put her feet in the car. The department did not provide a copy of the policy that required the action when asked by reporters.
According to WRIC, Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren said the police department — instead of the city’s “Person in Crisis” (PIC) team — responded to the scene because the call also involved a stolen vehicle.
The police union said officers had handcuffed the 9-year-old girl during a previous call in November. However, the news station noted the police officers never called for mental health experts during last week’s incident.
The Democrat and Chronicle reported that the girl was taken to the hospital for treatment before being released to her mother.
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[Featured image: Rochester Police Department]