The Rochester Police Department in New York released body camera videos on Sunday of a Friday call that resulted in officers pepper-spraying a 9-year-old girl.

The police department published two videos from body cameras, including one that shows the 9-year-old being sprayed with an irritant that Police Chief Cynthia Herriott-Sullivan identified as pepper spray during a press conference. 

The videos showed officers handcuffing the child, attempting to place her in a police vehicle and using pepper spray on her after she repeatedly called for her father and refused orders to put her feet in the car. 


During a Sunday press conference, Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren (D) said she was concerned for the 9-year-old who “was harmed during this incident” and that it was “clear from the video we need to do more in support of our children and families.” 

“I have a 10-year-old child, so she’s a child,” Warren said. “She’s a baby. This video, as a mother, is not anything you want to see.”

“This is not something that any of us should want to justify, can justify, and it’s something we have to change,” the mayor added.

Nine officers responded on Friday to a call reporting "family trouble." Officers were told the girl “indicated she wanted to kill herself and she wanted to kill her mom,” Deputy Police Chief Andre Anderson said during the briefing.

The girl ran away from home, and an officer chased and caught up with her. One video shows an officer asking, “What’s going on? How can I help?” Footage also shows the girl and her mother arguing before her mother gets into a dispute with a car that slowed down to watch the situation, Anderson said. 

Officers then attempted to get the girl into the vehicle for several minutes as the girl refused, calling for her father, struggling and at one point kicking an officer’s body camera off, he said. After several minutes of the girl crying and resisting, an officer can be heard in the video saying, “Just spray her at this point” as he closes the door.

Anderson said the child was taken to Rochester General Hospital and was later released. 

Police officials during the press conference declined to defend the officers’ actions. 

“I’m not going to stand here and tell you that for a 9-year-old to have to be pepper-sprayed is OK,”  Herriott-Sullivan, the chief, said. “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 that these kinds of things don’t happen.”

The Rochester Police Department released a statement on Saturday saying spraying an “irritant” in the girl’s face was “required,” the Democrat and Chronicle reported.

When asked about the policies that required pepper spray in that situation, Rochester Police Captain Mark Mura said, “The incident is under review at this time. We will comment on this question after all [body-worn camera] video and procedures have been reviewed.”

The Saturday statement also said the child was handcuffed and put in the vehicle "for the minor’s safety and at the request of the custodial parent on scene," according to the Democrat and Chronicle.

The Rochester Police Department had previously been under scrutiny for its handling of the arrest of Daniel Prude, a Black man who died of suffocation after his detainment. 

The city started a Person in Crisis Team last week that is designed to handle mental health and substance crises, but Warren said it would not have responded to Friday’s situation because it involved “a number of events happening at the same time that required a police response.”