Black mother pepper-sprayed by Rochester police in front of her young child
New video released on Friday as police come under fire for incidents of police brutality
New body cam footage shows police in Rochester, New York, pepper-spraying a black woman near her three-year-old daughter, bringing further criticism of the city's police department.
On February 22, Rochester police officers were told of a shoplifting incident and pulled over to approach a woman who matched the perpetrator's description.
"Come on. They said you stole," one white police officer can be heard telling the woman.
"What did you steal? What did you take? Tell me what you took. Tell me the truth."
The woman, carrying her daughter in one arm, insists that she stole nothing and empties her bag to show the officer.
She says: "I'm going to tell you the truth."
But when the officer refuses to let her leave, the woman suddenly turns and runs, her child in her arms.
"I did not do anything," she says.
Several officers chase her and then force her to the ground.
Her child runs around the officers, screaming for her mother until another officer carries her away.
The police department said the woman was pepper-sprayed during the arrest.
“The child was not pepper-sprayed or injured during the arrest,” the department said.
Local officials who saw the footage said that the child would not have been exposed to the spray.
The woman was not charged with shoplifting but with trespassing, while the arresting police officer was placed on administrative leave during an internal investigation, local news reports said.
“Just because we can do certain things doesn’t mean we should,” interim police chief Cynthia Herriott-Sullivan said of the incident. “Can we get to the same place by utilising a different strategy?”
The Rochester police department is already facing criticism over other cases of police brutality, including one in which a girl, 9, was pepper-sprayed as she called out for her father.
In the recorded incident that occurred on January 29, police can be heard saying to the young girl: “You did it to yourself."
"These disturbing incidents prove that the Rochester Police Department needs to fundamentally change its organisational culture," the city's Police Accountability Board said.
"These incidents also affirm our community's call to fundamentally reimagine public safety."
Another high-profile case took place in March 2020 when a black man, Daniel Prude, died in police custody. But video was not released until months later.
In it, Mr Prude is walking naked and intoxicated when he is intercepted by police, who put a hood over his head to prevent him from spitting.
They then hold him face-down on the pavement until he stops breathing. He died a week afterwards.
A medical examiner ruled Mr Prude's death a homicide but a grand jury declined to indict any of the officers involved.
Updated: March 10, 2021 04:17 AM