A police officer in Rochester, New York, was suspended and two others were placed on administrative leave after body camera footage showed a 9-year-old girl handcuffed and pepper-sprayed during a call about a family disturbance.
Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren said in a statement Monday that she demanded the suspensions while an internal police investigation is underway.
“Unfortunately, state law and union contract prevents me from taking more immediate and serious action,” Warren said, vowing to press for changes that would allow quicker disciplinary action.
New York Attorney General Letitia James said her office also is reviewing the incident, which she called “deeply disturbing and wholly unacceptable.”
“Such use of force and pepper spray should never be deployed against a child, period,” James said Monday. “My office is looking into what transpired and how a child was ever subjected to such danger.”
She added: “It’s clear that drastic reform is needed at the Rochester Police Department to ensure that mental health professionals and child advocates are actually responding to people in need and when minors are involved, and that this type of behavior never occurs again.”
Two police body cam videos taken on Friday and released Sunday show the child repeatedly crying out for her father as officers struggle to get her inside a police car following an argument on the street with a woman identified as her mother.
“You’re acting like a child,” one officer tells the girl while trying to move her feet into the vehicle.
“I am a child,” the girl responds between sobs.
After several minutes of trying to force the child fully into the car, a male officer directs another officer to “just spray her at this point.”