‘You did it to yourself, hon’: New video captures pepper-sprayed girl’s wait for medical treatment

Mayor Lovely Warren released 90 minutes of new footage in an effort to provide transparency

Oliver O'Connell
New York
Friday 12 February 2021 19:12
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Nine-year-old girl pepper sprayed by police begs for help

New video has been released showing the nine-year-old Black girl who was pepper-sprayed by police pleading for help as she waited handcuffed in the back of a police car.

In body camera footage released by the city of Rochester, New York, the young girl can be heard wailing and crying, and at one point she says: “Officer, please don’t do this to me.”

The officer responds: “You did it to yourself, hon.”

Mayor Lovely Warren released 90 minutes of new footage on Thursday in order to provide transparency as an investigation continues.

The initial video of the 29 January incident showed officers spraying a chemical irritant into the face of the handcuffed child. The city suspended those involved in detaining the young girl.

In the new video, which has been blurred by police to protect the family’s identity, the distraught child repeatedly cries for her father and complains that her eyes are burning.

She asks multiple times when the ambulance will come to clean the pepper spray from her eyes. An officer tells her an ambulance is on its way but is being held up by snow on the roads.

The young girl also begs to have the handcuffs removed as the liquid is running into her mouth.

As the wait for the ambulance continues, an officer tells her: “If you stick your head towards the window the cold air is going to feel nice.”

“It’s burning too bad,” she cries.

“It’s supposed to burn. It’s called pepper spray,” an officer responds.

The incident last week began when the child was pursued by nine officers who were called to a report of “family trouble”, the Associated Press reported.

At a press conference on Saturday, Rochester Police Department alleged that officers were “required” to restrain the child on the floor because she had kicked at them, and refused to get into a patrol car. They then administered the spray.

“For the minor’s safety and at the request of the custodial parent on scene,” the child was handcuffed and put in the back of a police car as they waited for an ambulance to arrive, the department added.

At Sunday’s news conference, Police Chief Cynthia Herriott-Sullivan described the irritant as pepper spray and declined to defend the officers’ actions.

“I’m not going to stand here and tell you that for a nine-year-old to have to be pepper-sprayed is OK. It’s not,” said the police chief.

“I don’t see that as who we are as a department, and we’re going to do the work we have to do to ensure that these kinds of things don’t happen,” she added.

The girl was eventually taken to Rochester General Hospital, “where she received the services and care that she needed,” before being released to her family the police said.

Rochester’s police department has come under fire since the death of Daniel Prude last year after officers put a hood over the black man’s head and pressed his face into the pavement.

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