Officials on Thursday released extended body camera footage showing the minutes before police handcuffed and pepper-sprayed a 9-year-old child in January. It’s the second video to emerge of the incident.
The latest footage reveals perspectives from several officers at the scene in Rochester, New York, and more context leading up to the child being pepper-sprayed.
The initial footage, which largely attracted international attention and anger from people online, shows the officers trying to get the girl to sit in the back of the police car.
“I’m going to pepper spray you, and I don’t want to,” a female officer says. “Sit back.” Another officer says, “Just spray her and get done with it.” The girl yells, “My eyes, please.”
The new footage reveals that the police were responding to a call from the girl’s mom, who was pregnant and accused her boyfriend of taking off with her car.
The footage shows a police officer calling for the 9-year-old after the woman, her mom, said her child was suicidal and threatened to kill her and the baby. “Come here. I just got to talk to you,” the officer says to the girl. “You’re not in trouble.”
When the girl keeps walking, the officer runs to catch up with her and grabs her arm. “What’s going on? How can I help you?” the officer says. “Get off me,” the girl says. “I don’t want to be with her.”
Soon after, the girl and her mom get into an argument over whether the woman stabbed the girl’s father. The girl says that she saw her dad holding his bleeding stomach when he walked into the house.
Her mom shouts that it was her blood from her mouth. “You watch this man put his hands on me all the time,” she says. “I got custody. You’re my child. So you’re going to take your ass home right now.”
The mom appears to lunge for her daughter, prompting the police officer to ask the mom to go back to the house as the girl tries to run away. “Dear, you’re not running away from me,” the officer says.
A civilian car pulls up as the mom and girl are fighting. “Can I help you?” the mom says to the people in the car. “You can suck my dick.”
The video shows another officer arrive and say, “Put her in your car.” The girl repeatedly shouts for her dad as the officers grab her arms.
After the girl is pepper-sprayed and being moved into an ambulance for her burning eyes, an officer asks the girl if she told her mom that she wanted to kill herself. “I just want my dad,” the girl says.
After the initial video was released, people on Twitter criticized the police officers’ use of force. “If a bunch of police officers can’t pacify a child without force, then they are not qualified for the job,” user @Tuck_Frump_ tweeted.
Others commented on the lack of change in the Rochester Police Department despite recent reforms to implement body cams, hire a Black woman as police chief, and create a special unit for mental health crises.
“None of these reforms fundamentally changed Rochester police,” Thomas Harvey wrote on Tuesday for the Advancement Project, a left-wing nonprofit dedicated to racial justice. “It is past time that we recognize there is no reforming these institutions.”
In June, the Rochester City Council voted to cut the police recruiting class in half and direct the $750,000 towards revamping policing. Organizers of the local Black Lives Matter movement wanted a 50% reduction in police spending.
“Arguments for reforming the police instead of abolishing them are predicated on several false premises, most prominent among them that police are central to public safety and the institution of policing can be fixed through a series of slight modifications,” Harvey wrote.
After the second video of the pepper-spraying incident was released, Reddit user @canteen_boy wrote, “Cops are under equipped and are out there everyday with nothing to work with except guns, insecurity, bigotry, guns, impunity, and of course more cops with all that stuff too.”
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo made a statement on Thursday condemning the behavior of the officers.
“This is symptomatic of a broader problem—the relationship between police and communities is damaged and needs to be fixed,” Cuomo said, “and that’s why we’re requiring police departments statewide to reimagine their forces or forgo state funding.”
Since the release of the new footage, the police department suspended one officer with pay and placed two on administrative leave.
“I continue to share our community’s outrage for the treatment of this child and have ensured that she and her family have been connected to the support they need through our Person in Crisis team,” Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren said.
The Rochester Police Department was already under scrutiny over the suffocation of Daniel Prude in March. Video footage showed officers placing a mesh hood over Prude’s head and pinning his face to the ground.
Rochester Police Chief Cynthia Herriott-Sullivan did not immediately respond to the Daily Dot’s request for a comment.
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