RPD: Officer uses irritant on 9-year-old after she kicks officers | WHEC.com

RPD: Officer uses irritant on 9-year-old after she kicks officers

Updated: January 31, 2021 07:27 AM
Created: January 30, 2021 10:31 AM

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — The Rochester Police Department is reviewing body camera footage and conducting an internal review after a family trouble call on Friday afternoon. 

Rochester Police responded around 3:30 p.m. to a home on Avenue B for a family trouble call involving a possible stolen vehicle. 

While investigating, officers say they were approached by a custodial parent of a minor to inform the officer that her child was going to cause self-harm to herself and others, before she ran away from the location. The police were able to apprehend the minor without incident, but the minor became agitated when she saw her parent. 

Police say the minor pulled away and kicked at officers, which required an officer to take the minor down to the ground. For the minor's safety and at the request of the parent, the minor was put in handcuffs and detained in the backseat of a patrol car to await medical personnel. 

While the minor was detained, police say she refused to listen to multiple commands by officers to put her feet inside the patrol car. This required an officer to use an irritant on the minor. 

The minor was transported to Rochester General Hospital under the Mental Hygiene Law for treatment. While police have not confirmed the age of the child, Rochester City Council members confirmed her age in a statement on the incident. 

She was later treated and released to her family. 

The Rochester Police Department will continue to review the body camera footage to make sure policy has not been violated. 

On Saturday, the Rochester Police Accountability Board Executive Director Conor Dwyer Reynolds released the following statement:

“Our community needs to see exactly what happened on Avenue B. While the PAB cannot conduct disciplinary hearings, we still have a legal duty to bring transparency to all of the RPD’s policies and practices, including those at issue here. The PAB will be working to ensure all relevant information, including body-worn camera footage, is released to the public without delay. The PAB will continue to advocate for changes that keep our community’s children safe, including our call for the City to ban police use of chemical weapons against Rochesterians of all ages.” 

Mayor Lovely Warren released a statement, saying that because of the contents of the initial call special teams like Person in Crisis or the Forensic Intervention Team were not deployed. The statement is below:

“I am deeply troubled by the macing and handcuffing of a child who is in distress and clearly emotional. That is why we are currently working hard to change how we deal with these types of calls and how our children are dealt with by police officers. I reviewed the body worn camera footage and immediately spoke to the Chief about RPD's response and also notified City Council. Unfortunately, this was not an incident where the Person in Crisis (PIC) or Forensic Intervention Team (FIT) would have been called because of the type of the initial 911 call. Unfortunately, there were a number events happening at the same time that required a police response. However, we will have our Person in Crisis team engage with the family to see what support we can provide going forward. The body worn camera footage is being redacted because it involves a minor, and we will make it available as soon as possible.”

The Rochester City Council's President and Vice President, Loretta Scott and Willie Lightfoot released the following statement:

"This morning, our community was made aware of the incident on Harris Street that occurred last night involving a minor and the Rochester Police Department. We have reviewed footage of the incident, and we are shocked, disappointed, and angered by the handling of this incident. This child was under extreme emotional distress and needed care from mental health professionals, or at the very least, assistance from a caring adult. It is difficult to understand why in the presence of multiple officers, there was a need to use handcuffs and mace to subdue this 9-year old. It is clear that law enforcement is not properly trained to respond to mental health crises. However, that does not relieve them of their responsibility to serve with empathy and compassion. We must ensure these mental health calls are routed to appropriate services, like the newly formed Person in Crisis (PIC) team, to allow mental health professionals to do their job. This incident must be fully investigated, including a full review of all Body Worn Camera footage of the officers on scene, and an explanation for why PIC was not dispatched. We are calling on Chief Herriott-Sullivan to take any measures necessary to ensure this type of interaction does not reoccur in the future, and to hold accountable any officers who violated departmental policies in this regard."

Malik Evans, who has announced he will run against Lovely Warren for mayor, also has released a statement: 

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