Rochester mayor suspends officers seen pepper spraying 9-year-old girl

Mayor Lovely Warren declared 'unfortunately, state law and union contract prevents me from taking more immediate and serious action.'

Mayor Lovely Warren of Rochester, NY has suspended the officers involved in a recent viral-video where a 9-year-old girl was pepper sprayed by law enforecement.

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According to WXXI News, bodycam footage released from police officers on the scene of the incident revealed the child was handcuffed and detained in a police cruiser before being pepper-sprayed. A call regarding a domestic issue and a possible stolen vehicle brought police to the vicinity where police claimed they were informed the child was attempting to hurt herself and others.

Rochester Mayor Lovely A. Warren
Rochester Mayor Lovely A. Warren (Photo by Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images)

Police say to control the situation, they placed her in the cuffs and in the car as she exhibited signs of agitation. The officers claimed to use the pepper spray after the child did not follow ordered commands.

The girl was subsequently treated at a local hospital before being returned to her family.

“I’m not going to stand here and tell you that for a 9-year-old to have to be pepper sprayed is OK, it’s not. I don’t see that as who we are as a department and we’re going to have to do to ensure that these kinds of things don’t happen,” said Police Chief Cynthia Herriott-Sullivan according to the report.

Rochester police
A 9-year-old girl in handcuffs in the back of a Rochester police cruiser. (Credit: Rochester Police/screenshot)

Mayor Warren, who is the mother of a 10-year-old daughter, showed disdain for the officer’s actions. She detailed that she was “very concerned about how this young girl was handled by our police department. It is clear from the video that we need to do more in supporting our children and families,” WXXI reported.

She continued “this video, as a mother, is not anything that you want to see. It’s not. We have to understand compassion, empathy. When you have a child that is suffering in this way and calling out for her dad…I saw my baby’s face in her face.”

Warning: this video contains graphic language and police violence. It may be disturbing to viewers.

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Now, the mayor has moved and officially taken action against the officers involved. According to NPR Illinois, the police responsible for detaining and pepper-spraying the nine-year-old child were suspended from duty on Monday. The number of officers suspended nor their names or other identifying factors have been released.

“Unfortunately, state law and union contract prevents me from taking more immediate and serious action,” Mayor Warren remarked according to the report.

In the shocking video, the little girl screams out for her father as the officers continue to carry out their violent protocol. NPR reported additional video footage showed at last six different police cars at the scene.

“You’re acting like a child,” one officer screams at the child.

“I am a child!” the girl responds, screaming as well.

Mayor Warren said she had been in contact with the girl’s family according to the news outlet. New York State Attorney General Letitia James also spoke out against the actions of the Rochester police.

According to NPR, she called the behavior “deeply disturbing and wholly unacceptable. Such use of force and pepper spray should never be deployed against a child, period. My office is looking into what transpired and how a child was ever subjected to such danger.”

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