WATCH: City releases body camera footage of 9-year-old pepper sprayed by Rochester police

Local News

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) – Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren held a press conference Sunday morning in regards to Friday’s incident on Avenue B involving a 9-year-old girl.

Officers responded to a residence on Avenue B and were approached by the custodial parent of a minor. The custodial parent told the RPD that her child was going to cause self-harm to herself and others before she ran away from the residence.

Police say the girl was “agitated when she saw her custodial parent,” the RPD officials said in a press release. “This caused the minor to pull away and kick at officers, which required an officer to take the minor down to the ground.”

Body camera footage

According to the RPD, for the minor’s safety and at the request of the custodial parent, the minor was handcuffed and detained in the backseat of a patrol car to await for AMR.

Officers say the minor refused to listen to them as they gave her multiple commands to place her
feet inside the patrol car. This required an officer to use an irritant on the minor.

The minor was transported to Rochester General Hospital under Mental Hygiene Law
9.41. The minor was treated and released to her family.

Sunday, the City of Rochester released police-worn body camera footage of the incident, with some redactions to protect the privacy of the child.

Body camera footage released:

The RPD will conduct an internal review to make sure policy has not been violated.

MORE | Police union says no rules broken, Chief said RPD doing internal review after police pepper spray 9-year-old

The Rochester Police Accountability Board released the following statement:

“Our community needs to see exactly what happened on Avenue B,” said Police
Accountability Board Executive Director Conor Dwyer Reynolds. “While the PAB cannot
conduct disciplinary hearings, we still have a legal duty to bring transparency to all of the
RPD’s policies and practices, including those at issue here. The PAB will be working to
ensure all relevant information, including body worn camera footage, is released to the
public without delay. The PAB will continue to advocate for changes that keep our
community’s children safe, including our call for the City to ban police use of chemical
weapons against Rochesterians of all ages.”

Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren released the following statement:

“I am deeply troubled by the macing and handcuffing of a child who is in distress and clearly emotional. That is why we are currently working hard to change how we deal with these types of calls and how our children are dealt with by police officers. I reviewed the body worn camera footage and immediately spoke to the Chief about RPD’s response and also notified City Council. Unfortunately, this was not an incident where the Person in Crisis (PIC) or Forensic Intervention Team (FIT) would have been called because of the type of the initial 911 call. Unfortunately, there were a number events happening at the same time that required a police response. However, we will have our Person in Crisis team engage with the family to see what support we can provide going forward. The body worn camera footage is being redacted because it involves a minor, and we will make it available as soon as possible.”

City Councilmember, and candidate for mayor, Malik Evans released the following statement:

“Like many in the community I am deeply disturbed by the news that a minor child was handcuffed and sprayed with an irritant by the Rochester Police Department while responding to a mental health call on January 29. The bodycam footage and a detailed description of what happened should be released to the public As Soon As Possible. We must also have a full accounting on how the new process for engaging mental health professionals on RPD calls seem to have broke down in this instance.”

City Council President Loretta Scott and Vice President Willie Lightfoot released the following statement:

“This morning, our community was made aware of the incident on Harris Street that occurred last night involving a minor and the Rochester Police Department. We have reviewed footage of the incident, and we are shocked, disappointed, and angered by the handling of this incident.        

This child was under extreme emotional distress and needed care from mental health professionals, or at the very least, assistance from a caring adult. It is difficult to understand why in the presence of multiple officers, there was a need to use handcuffs and mace to subdue this 9-year old.  

It is clear that law enforcement is not properly trained to respond to mental health crises. However, that does not relieve them of their responsibility to serve with empathy and compassion.

We must ensure these mental health calls are routed to appropriate services, like the newly formed Person in Crisis (PIC) team, to allow mental health professionals to do their job.

This incident must be fully investigated, including a full review of all Body Worn Camera footage of the officers on scene, and an explanation for why PIC was not dispatched. We are calling on Chief Herriot-Sullivan to take any measures necessary to ensure this type of interaction does not reoccur in the future, and to hold accountable any officers who violated departmental policies in this regard.”

A protest organized by Free the People ROC and Community Justice Initiative will be held later on Monday in response.

Press Conference from Mayor Lovely Warren

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