Some community members call for RPD chief to step down over his response to YouTube video

Posted at: 08/29/2013 7:25 PM | Updated at: 08/29/2013 7:31 PM

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Some people are calling for the Rochester Police chief to step down and they claim it is because of his response to a video where a Rochester Police officer is seen striking 21-year-old Brenda Hardaway in the head and then forcing her to the ground. Hardaway says she is five months pregnant.

However, officers say she was interfering with an arrest. Police say they were called to the home for a domestic dispute and when they tried to arrest her 16-year-old brother. Officers claim she threatened them with pepper spray.

On Wednesday, Rochester Police Chief James Sheppard says the strike in the head is part of officer training. However, some community members say the officer went too far.

Chief Sheppard says he will not pass judgment until the investigation is over.  He also says the officer involved in the incident is still on duty and that is one of the reasons this community is fired up. The YouTube video has around 56,000 hits now. Many think Hardaway should have complied with police. While others say, the officer went way too far.

Rev. Lewis W. Stewart, Christian Fellowship Baptist Church, said, “Some will say what happened was lawful. We say it was immoral. Others will say it was appropriate. We will say it was a flagrant case of police brutality. Some will say Brenda Hardaway deserved it. We say suppose it happened to your mother, your sister or your wife.”

Clergymen from all over Rochester and members of the NAACP uniting, demanding city officials act immediately. Many spoke to the some community members Thursday at the Faith Temple Ministry. The brother-involved in the incident, Romengeno Hardaway and his mother were also there. They want the city to charge the officer with physical assault and remove him off of the streets. A petition was even started for the push. But one of the biggest demands, the clergymen want Chief Sheppard removed, saying he has failed to show he is able to control his officers. News10NBC went right to the city's top cop and told them that some members of the community want him to step down.

Chief James Sheppard, RPD, said, “I understand that people are upset. I understand it is an emotional circumstance. I can speak for myself that when you are looking at the video, it does raise your emotions relative to what you see. Again, I am very adamant that I will wait to make a conclusion before I get all of the information. That's what I plan to do here.”

The clergymen also want Brenda Hardaway released from jail. The group says they will call on thousands of people and march on City Hall if she is not released. Despite the demands, Brenda Hardaway will remain in jail until the $7,500 bail is posted. Chief Sheppard said the officer's status will not change until the investigation is complete.


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