Outrage as video shows police handcuffing 10-year-old Black girl wearing pyjamas during probation raid

Incident was recorded in an audit that includes over 100 complaints against Sacramento police officers

Maanya Sachdeva
Friday 23 June 2023 13:32 BST
<p>A screengrab from the body cam footage released by Sacramento Police Department, as part of an audit into over 100 complaints against its officers </p>

A screengrab from the body cam footage released by Sacramento Police Department, as part of an audit into over 100 complaints against its officers

Sacramento’s police department has come under fire after body camera footage of an officer handcuffing a 10-year-old Black girl was released this week.

The video from February last year was reportedly played at a Sacramento City Council meeting on Tuesday 20 June.

It shows the girl, dressed in red and black pyjamas, being handcuffed while she’s crying, after she opened the door to police officers conducting a probation raid in connection with a stolen car and firearms investigation.

The police account states the investigation involved a “known gang member” who was on probation “and posted both pictures and videos with firearms”.

In the video, officers can be heard yelling, asking people inside the house to open the door, and forcibly shaking the metal screen that looks like it might come off its hinges.

“I’m a baby,” the girl can be heard saying, when she opens the door.

“You’re not a baby if you’re not listening,” one office replies.

The young girl is then handcuffed and walked to a police car, while she’s crying: “I’m scared, I’m scared, mommy.

“I’m scared I don’t know what to do, I don’t know what to do,” she can be heard saying, as she is walked to a police car.

The handcuffs were removed after she informed police officers she was 10 years old but the young girl “should not have been handcuffed even for a second”, Inspector general Dwight White told the council on Tuesday.

“If this girl was another race, she likely wouldn’t have been handcuffed,” Mr White continued.

At the same meeting, Police Chief Kathy Lester said “there is no circumstance where it’s OK to handcuff a 10-year-old, regardless of race”.

A spokesperson for the Anti-Terror Police Project, Carly Brannin, said of the video in a statement to KCRA: “[Those] 35 seconds of being handcuffed will result in a lifetime of trauma.”

The incident was detailed in an audit by the Office of Public Safety Accountability (OPSA) that includes over 100 complaints of improper search and seizure against Sacramento police officers between June 2020 and June 2023.

OPSA director and former Nevada police chief Dr LaTesha Watson said the mother of the girl in the video told her the child is now “afraid of the police”.

“It could have been justified, but was it necessary? That is the biggest issue that I have here,” Dr Watson added.

The girl’s mother also reportedly submitted a formal complaint about the incident, which was dismissed by the department.

The audit by OPSA found the Sacramento Police Department doesn’t have a policy regarding handcuffing a child, unlike the cities of San Jose or Baltimore.

According to the police response to the video, “the officer had reasonable and articulable concerns for his safety which justified the lawful detention... no matter how legitimate the circumstances, and no matter the legal justification, SPD understands the sensitive nature of inadvertently creating harm”.

Councilwoman Katie Valenzuela called the video “incredibly disturbing”, adding: “It just feels like (a policy is) something we should have if we don’t already because that shouldn’t be happening.”

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