A video of officers handcuffing and using pepper spray against a 9-year-old girl in Rochester, New York, sparked new outrage at the law enforcement methods.
According to Deputy Police Chief Andre Anderson, the girl, whose identity has not been revealed, was suffering from an urgent mental health crisis, apparently threatening to take her own life and kill her mother.
Police called to the scene on Friday reacted by handcuffing her, before trying to force her into a car and use pepper spray when she resisted, according to camera footage carried by officers, released. Sunday by the city police.
But Rochester’s black mayor Lovely Warren has condemned the use of force against a child, promising an internal investigation into the city’s law enforcement practices.
“I have a ten-year-old child, he’s a kid, he’s a baby. As a mother, this video is not something you want to see, ”she said at a press conference on Sunday.
Members of Rochester City Council have accused police of excessive force in a situation where mental health professionals should have been involved.
Local police chief Cynthia Herriott-Sullivan also admitted that the police had acted excessively. “I’m not going to tell you that for a 9-year-old it’s normal to get sprayed with pepper spray,” she said on Sunday. “It isn’t. “
The president of the local police union defended the actions of the police, saying that “limited resources” left them no choice but to use pepper spray against the child.
“It is not a lack of compassion or empathy,” Mike Mazzeo said Sunday. “We are facing a very difficult situation. “
“We are not on TV, we are not in Hollywood,” he said, stressing that it was not always possible to “put handcuffs on someone and make them obey” .
RACIAL TENSIONS SEEN FROM LE DEVOIR
This is the second time in a year that Rochester police officers have been implicated in violence, after the death in March of an African-American, Daniel Prude, in the throes of a psychotic episode at the time of his arrest, who had fallen into a coma and then died.
Naked in the street when the police arrived, Daniel Prude was unarmed and was quickly handcuffed, before one of the officers present put a hood over his head to prevent him from spitting on the police, because he said he had contracted the coronavirus .
The forensic institute concluded, after an autopsy, that the death of Daniel Prude was a homicide, linked to “asphyxiation following a physical constraint”.
The scandal had prompted protests in Rochester and New York to demand reforms in the Rochester police force and prompted its leader, La’Ron Singletary, an African-American, to quit his post in September.
The death of Daniel Prude echoes those of George Floyd or Breonna Taylor, also black, during violent arrests, which have sparked hundreds of demonstrations in the United States since May.