The mayor of Rochester, N.Y., ordered the city’s police chief to immediately suspend officers who were involved in Friday’s pepper-spraying of a child, the city announced on Monday.
Body-camera video footage showed officers handcuffing and pepper-spraying a nine-year-old girl.
The city didn’t say how many officers were ordered to be suspended, but said in a series of tweets the suspensions will continue at least until the police investigation is concluded.
“What happened Friday was simply horrible, and has rightly outraged all of our community,” Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren was quoted as saying in one of the tweets.
WARNING | This video contains graphic content:
Officers were responding to a 911 call about family trouble, police said. Video taken during the incident showed police wrestling the girl to the ground in the snow.
“You’re acting like a child,” an officer in the video tells her.
“I am a child,” she says, as she screams and cries for her father.
The girl’s identity was not released and the video was blurred to provide anonymity. A representative for the child’s family could not be immediately identified.
“Unfortunately, state law and union contract prevents me from taking more immediate and serious action. I will lead the charge that these laws be changed as part of our response to the Governor’s Executive Order 203.
New probe follows inquiry into death of Daniel Prude
The investigation comes months after Rochester was rocked by protests in the wake of the death of Daniel Prude, a Black man who died last year after officers from the department put a hood over his head and pressed his face into the pavement.
An inquiry concluded that seven officers involved in the death of Prude, 41, acted within department policy and ethical standards.
In Friday’s incident, police were responding to a 911 call reporting “family trouble,” Rochester Deputy Police Chief Andre Anderson told reporters. He said the girl “indicated she wanted to kill herself and she wanted to kill her mom.”
After the girl tried to run away, officers handcuffed her and attempted to take her to a hospital in the patrol car, Anderson said.
Screaming “I want my dad!” she resisted their efforts to get her into the patrol car, the video showed.
‘This is your last chance,’ officer tells girl
“This is your last chance. Otherwise pepper spray is going into your eyeballs,” an officer tells her. “I will call your dad.”
Eventually, another officer says, “Just spray her at this point.”
The girl screams. She pleads, “Wipe my eyes, please!”
“Unbelievable,” the officer says.
After Prude’s death, Warren fired the police chief, La’Ron Singletary, and named Cynthia Herriott-Sullivan as the first woman to run the department.
Video footage, released by Prude’s family, showed officers using a mesh hood and pinning him to the pavement, in a scene reminiscent of George Floyd’s May 25 death in Minneapolis police custody that sparked worldwide anti-racism protests.