US police pepper-sprayed 9-year-old girl, footage shows

0:00
play article
Subscribers can listen to this article
(Screengrab, Twitter)
(Screengrab, Twitter)
  • A nine-year-old black girl was handcuffed and pepper-sprayed by police in the US city of Rochester, footage released showed.
  • Officers called to the scene responded by handcuffing her, before trying to force her into a car and pepper-spraying her when she resisted.
  • Rochester police on Saturday claimed they were "required" to use handcuffs and the irritant against the girl for her own safety.


A nine-year-old black girl was handcuffed and pepper-sprayed by police in the US city of Rochester, footage released Sunday showed, sparking new outrage over excesses committed by the country's law enforcement.

Deputy Police Chief Andre Anderson said on Sunday the girl - who has not been named - had been suffering from a serious mental health emergency, reportedly threatening to take her own life and that of her mother.

Officers called to the scene on Friday responded by handcuffing her, before trying to force her into a car and pepper-spraying her when she resisted, body cam videos released by the city's police force showed.

Footage of police violence against African-Americans, including the May killing of George Floyd, sparked a summer of protests across the US against racial injustice and police brutality last year.

Rochester police on Saturday claimed they were "required" to use handcuffs and the irritant against the girl for her own safety.

Mayor Lovely Warren condemned their use of force against a child, pledging an internal review of the city's law enforcement practices.

"It is clear from the video that we need to do more supporting our children and families," she said at a press conference Sunday.

"I have a 10-year-old child, so she's a child, she's a baby," she added.

"This video, as a mother, is not anything you want to see. We have to understand compassion, empathy."

The incident is the second time in a year that Rochester has come under national scrutiny for police violence against African-Americans, following the killing last March of Daniel Prude, who died after police hooded and forced him face down on the road.

The death of Prude, who was also undergoing a mental health crisis at the time of his detention, prompted a grand jury probe and sparked mass protests.

Rochester city council members condemned the footage, accusing the police of excessive force in a situation where mental health professionals should have been involved.

Local police chief Cynthia Herriott-Sullivan also acknowledged that the police had acted excessively.

"I'm not going to stand here and tell you that for a 9-year-old to have to be pepper-sprayed is OK," she said Sunday. "It's not."

But the local police union president defended the officers' actions, saying that "limited resources" had left them no choice but to use pepper-spray against the child.

"This is not about lack of compassion or empathy," Mike Mazzeo said Sunday. "We're dealing with a very difficult situation."

"It's not TV, it's not Hollywood. We don't just have a simple put someone in handcuffs and have them comply," he said.

Do you want to know more about this topic? Sign up for one of News24's 33 newsletters to receive the information you want in your inbox. Special newsletters are available to subscribers.

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For only R75 per month, you have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today.
Subscribe to News24
Lockdown For
DAYS
HRS
MINS
Voting Booth
When a Covid-19 vaccine for under 16's becomes available, will you be taking your children to get it?
Please select an option Oops! Something went wrong, please try again later.
Results
Yes, immediately!
38% - 4014 votes
I'll wait to see how others respond
26% - 2736 votes
No, I don't think they need it
36% - 3869 votes
Vote
ZAR/USD
15.29
(-0.52)
ZAR/GBP
21.24
(-0.12)
ZAR/EUR
18.29
(-0.11)
ZAR/AUD
11.81
(-0.08)
ZAR/JPY
0.14
(-0.10)
Gold
1700.44
(+0.04)
Silver
25.20
(+0.16)
Platinum
1128.01
(+0.31)
Brent Crude
69.67
(+3.93)
Palladium
2329.95
(+0.62)
All Share
68271.19
(+0.78)
Top 40
62788.64
(+0.87)
Financial 15
12759.80
(+0.67)
Industrial 25
87613.31
(-0.32)
Resource 10
70801.78
(+2.36)
All JSE data delayed by at least 15 minutes morningstar logo