Body camera footage has been released, showing an incident Friday on Avenue B where an officer used what the department calls an “irritant” on a 9-year-old while she was handcuffed in the back of a police car.
The incident, which occurred on Friday, stemmed from a call at a home for alleged family trouble.
During a news conference from the mayor, Warren said she has been in communication with the 9-year-old’s mother, and shared her concern for the child.
Warren said, as requested by the mother, the child’s identity will not be released. The mayor said they want to make sure the city is being compliant, transparent, but also protective of the individual.
The mayor said it’s clear from the video more needs to be done in support the community’s children and family. Warren called it a top priority for the administration.
Within 12 hours, Warren said the Rochester Police Department let the mayor, city council, and the public know.
“This video, as a mother, is not anything you want to see,” an emotional Warren said. “We have to understand compassion. Empathy.”
Warren explained that in the video, the child is calling out for her dad. “I saw my baby’s face in her face,” she said.
“It’s something we have to change,” Warren said regarding the incident. “It’s not an option. We must change how we do business. How we treat people.”
On Friday, police say the incident stemmed from a call to a home on Avenue B around 3:30 p.m. for alleged family trouble. Police say there were reports of a possible stolen vehicle.
While police were there, they say the custodial parent of the minor allegedly told them the child was going to hurt herself and others before she ran away from the home.
Officers found the minor without incident, but they claim when she saw her parent, she allegedly became agitated and kicked at officers.
Police say she was handcuffed and put in a patrol car for her safety and at the request of her custodial parent, according to police.
When she allegedly refused to put her feet into the car, police say that's when the irritant was used.
She was then taken to Rochester General Hospital where she was treated and released to her family.
"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. I don't see that as who we are as a department and we're going to do the work we have to do to ensure these kinds of things don't happen," said Interim RPD Chief Cynthia Herriott-Sullivan.
Warren said she would like the Police Accountability Board to review the incident.
Rochester Police Locust Club President Michael Mazzeo spoke out over the weekend defending the officer that used the pepper spray.
Monroe County Executive Adam J. Bello issued a statement regarding the incident on Monday.
"Like so many others, I was shocked, saddened, and outraged after watching the RPD body-camera footage of the treatment of a 9-year-old child being handcuffed and pepper-sprayed over the weekend on Avenue B. As an elected official and a member of this community I am deeply disturbed by what I witnessed.
After seeing the video, I immediately reached out to members of the Mental Health Task Force and the County’s Office of Mental Health to talk about challenging what I see as the status quo and how we can be part of a solution. It is clear to me that there were missed opportunities, and had the right steps been taken, the trauma inflicted on this child could have been avoided.
Monroe County’s Forensic Intervention Team was available and could have responded immediately, which could have changed the outcome for this young person and her family. Their support could have gotten that child the services and support she needed in that moment. But unfortunately, they were not called.
As I’ve stressed before, not every emergency call should be met with a badge and a gun. No longer can we continue to fall back on 'this is what they were taught to do' as an acceptable answer. The only way to make this change is by reforming current policies and procedures, to ensure an appropriate response when working with our vulnerable communities of color; ones that reflect accountability and the sworn duty to protect."