Outrage erupted and the phrase "She's 9" was trending on social media early Monday after body-cam video footage emerged of police in Rochester, New York violently abusing a 9-year-old girl—including handcuffing her and then pepper-spraying her in the face while in the back of a cruiser.
"This is your last chance, or pepper spray's going in your eyeballs," one female officer tells the young girl, handcuffed and sitting on the edge of the police car's back seat during events that took place Friday.
According to reporting, the police had responded to a family dispute but what resulted was a horrifying scene of multiple officers abusing a clearly traumatized and emotionally distressed young girl.
"I want my dad," the girl can be heard crying to the female officer. The girl later says, "No! You said you were gonna pepper-spray me. No, please, stop!"
Subsequently and from the other side of the cruiser a separate officer can be heard saying, "Just pepper spray her at this point." Moments later, the hand of a male officer whose body camera is recording the situation can be seen reaching out with a can of pepper spray and says "Here." As the young girl begins screaming and asking the police repeatedly to "Please wipe my eyes, please!" the male officer announces, "I got her. I got her."
Watch: [Warning: The following footage is graphic and may be disturbing to some viewers]:
She’s 9 years old. She was pepper sprayed. This is the state of police in our country. pic.twitter.com/sADh0olPLy
— Police Brutality Tracker (@pdbrutality) February 1, 2021
"These officers should be fired and indicted," said Sawyer Hacket, senior advisor and communications director for Julian Castro, in response to the footage.
What was released by the Rochester Police Department on Sunday were two body camera videos, one just under 11 minutes and the other just over 6 minutes [Warning: Graphic]:
According to the New York Times:
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During the incident, which occurred Friday afternoon, officers restrained the girl, pushing her into the snow in order to handcuff her, while she screamed repeatedly for her father, the footage showed.
At one point, an officer said, "You're acting like a child." She responded, "I am a child."
In a statement at a Sunday press conference, Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren expressed her concern for the "child that was harmed during this incident."
"I have a 10-year-old child," Lovely added, "so she's a child, she's a baby. This video, as a mother, is not anything you want to see."
As the Times notes, the incident on Friday "has brought renewed scrutiny to the Rochester Police Department, months after the city was roiled by the disclosure that Daniel Prude, a Black man, suffocated to death last year after Rochester police officers had placed him in a hood."
The local Democrat & Chronicle reports that the young girl was taken to Rochester General Hospital where she received assessment and care. She was later released to family.
Later in the day, Mike Mazzeo, president of the Rochester Police Locust Club, held a press conference where he defended the officers' actions and even went so far to say that the young victim could have been hurt worse if they had acted differently.
Mazzeo also said that the police did not violate any department protocols.
— Will Cleveland (@WillCleveland13) January 31, 2021
"They broke no policies," claimed Mazzeo. "There's nothing that anyone can say they did that's inappropriate."