The Rochester, New York police officers who handcuffed and pepper sprayed a 9-year-old girl on Wednesday (Jan. 27) have been suspended. Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren ordered the officers’ suspension on Monday (Feb. 1), calling it a “minimum” punishment until the internal police investigation into the incident has been completed.
“Unfortunately, state law and union contract prevents me from taking more immediate and serious action,” she said in a statement.
Warren’s suspension of the officers arrives a day after the police department released disturbing body camera footage of the incident. In two videos, the young girl, who has not been identified, can be heard screaming for her father while cops try to force her into the back of a police car.
Police say they were responding to a call about a family disturbance and that the girl was suicidal. The officers had reportedly been trying to get the child into the car so they could take her to the hospital, but the situation quickly escalated.
“This is your last chance; otherwise pepper spray’s going in your eyeballs,” one officer could be heard threatening the child.
“Just spray her at this point,” another cop said, as the girl cried out for her dad.
In a statement, Executive Deputy Chief Andre Anderson said he wouldn't make “any excuses for what transpired.”
Interim Police Chief Cynthia Herriott-Sullivan added, “I’m not going to stand here and tell you that for a 9-year-old to be pepper sprayed is ok. It’s not.”
The incident has since renewed public distrust toward the department. Back in March, Rochester police officers killed a Black man named Daniel Prude, who was suffering a mental health episode. Several officers and members of the department were fired or resigned after the incident, but details about Prude’s death were not shared with the public until months later.