Rochester cops tried to remove 9-year-old from a violent family crisis before pepper-spraying her, video shows
- Viral video last month showed cops pepper-spraying and handcuffing a 9-year-old girl.
- Police said they were "required" to spray the girl when she refused orders to get in a police car.
- New body cam video detailed domestic abuse ahead of the the girl's interaction with police.
The Rochester police department came under fire earlier this month when two body camera videos showed officers handcuffing and pepper-spraying a 9-year-old girl.
The city announced at the time that the officers involved were suspended amid an investigation into the Jan. 29 incident. The investigation is ongoing.
"What happened Friday was simply horrible, and has rightly outraged, all our community," Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren said in a statement earlier this month.
On Thursday, the city released an additional 86 minutes of body camera footage from the interaction, which showed disturbing details of how the child's trauma last month began even before police arrived on scene.
The Rochester Democrat and Chronicle previously reported officers were called to a home that day after receiving a report of "family trouble" involving a possible stolen vehicle.
Video shows that when the 9-year-old was first approached by an officer, she was sobbing and distraught over domestic violence she had just witnessed at her home.
Warning: Some readers may find the footage distressing.
The new footage shows a male police officer approaching the young girl running from him in a snow covered Rochester neighborhood.
When he caught up with her, he asked "what is going on? How can I help you?"
The girl demanded several times that the officer, who was holding on to her arm, let go of her. He told her he couldn't do that and continued to ask why she was so upset.
After some time, the girl pointed to a figure who's identity was blurred in the video and said "she stabbed my dad."
The person can be heard in the video denying that she did, and said the blood the girl said she saw was from her own lip.
The child started arguing with the one or several people off-camera over the dispute.
"We were fighting on the porch, yes, you grown ass little girl" a woman screams at her. "You're grown as a bitch and you don't know what you're talking about."
"You sit there and watch this man put his hands on me all the time," the woman continued.
A woman then moves onto camera, screaming into the child's face.
"I got custody. You're my child. You're my child. So you're going to take your ass home right now, and you're going to take your ass into the house," she said, before reaching out and hitting her on the head.
As the officer starts walking the young girl away from the woman, she said, through tears, "I want to murder her."
When the two arrive at the cruiser, he and other officers attempt to put the girl in the back seat.
She starts thrashing and calling out for her father multiple times, while still crying.
The footage that was first released to the public earlier this month shows officers eventually bringing her down to the ground to restrain her in handcuffs as she lies facedown in the snow.
The officers repeatedly told her to get in the back of a police car, then pepper sprayed her in the face.
The Democrat and Chronicle previously reported the girl was taken to a hospital for mental-health treatment and that she had since been released to her family.
When the news of the interaction broke earlier this month, police said the girl's actions in resisting the officers "required" them to take her to the ground and later pepper-spray her. The department did not provide any policies indicating the officers were required to take such measures with the girl, the Democrat and Chronicle said at the time.
Mayor Warren said at a press conference earlier this month that the girl reminded her of her own 10-year-old daughter and that she was "very concerned about how this young girl was handled by our police department."
"It is clear from the video that we need to do more in supporting our children and families," Warren said.
Interim Police Chief Cynthia Herriott-Sullivan added: "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."
In addition to releasing more body camera footage, the department also published a database that includes the disciplinary records for 12o officers in the department.
"We are committed to being transparent and sharing all of the information and video regarding this incident and all of our investigations with the community, Warren said in a statement released Thursday. "I continue to share out community's outrage for the treatment of this child and have ensured she and her family have been connected to support they need through our Person in Crisis team."
—Will Cleveland (@WillCleveland13) February 11, 2021
The city's Person In Crisis Team is a non-law enforcement emergency response available through 911 for calls that involve emotional or behavioral turmoil.
It was developed in response to the March 2020 killing of Prude, In March 2020, whose brother had called 911 because he was acting erratically. Prude's brother said the man was experiencing mental health issues.
The team was announced days before the 9-year-old girl was pepper sprayed by police.
Reexamining the role of police in crisis cases
The killing of Daniel Prude and pepper spaying of the 9-year-old are among several violent police interactions over the last year that have reignited a conversation about the role of police in responding to behavioral health crises.
Rochester's People in Crisis Team is among a variety of non-police response programs that have been launched around the US amid anti-police brutality protests.
The programs are modeled after the 30-year-old Cahoots program, short for Crisis Assistance Helping Out on the Streets, in Eugene, Oregon.
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