ROCHESTER – In response to footage released yesterday of Rochester police officers pepper spraying and handcuffing a 9-year-old Black girl on Friday, the New York Civil Liberties Union issued the following statement from executive director Donna Lieberman:
“No child should ever experience assault or abuse at the hands of law enforcement. There is no conceivable justification for the Rochester police to subject a 9-year-old to pepper spray, period.
The Rochester Police Department has no business serving as the first responder in a mental health crisis that calls for mental health expertise. It’s time for a full transformation of community safety, beginning with extracting the RPD from responding to mental health crises and putting trained mental health professionals in charge.
The City of Rochester and the Police Accountability Board must open investigations into this incident immediately, including reviewing RPD’s excessive force and minors’ policies, revealing all body-worn camera footage, and holding officers accountable for wrongdoing. Members of the Rochester community have a right to know the misconduct history of the officers present, and what other reckless behavior these officers have carried out whether on camera or not.
We called on the Mayor and her administration to take urgent, systemic action in the wake of Daniel Prude’s killing, and we will do so again: Rochester police must no longer respond to residents experiencing mental health crises, and the city must immediately create safe alternatives that provide care, not inflict violence and trauma upon those they were called to support.”