N.Y. protesters storm police station after incident where child was pepper sprayed by police officers

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In this this Jan. 29. 2021 still frame from a Rochester Police Department body-camera video, a 9-year-old girl is handcuffed in police custody in a police cruiser after police used pepper spray on her as she screamed for her father. Rochester, New York police released two body-camera videos of officers restraining the girl. (Rochester Police Department via AP)

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UPDATED 8:47 AM PT – Tuesday, February 2, 2021

Protests became rowdy outside a Rochester Police Department station after video surfaced of officers pepper spraying a 9-year old girl. According to reports Monday, hundreds of demonstrators stormed the station.

The inciting incident happened Friday as police officers were responding to a family disturbance call. Body cam footage shows police attempting to detain a kicking and screaming child as she frantically called for her father.

At one point, the officers decided to deploy pepper spray in an attempt to de-escalate the situation. At a press conference Sunday, Deputy Police Chief Andre Anderson described the child as being “suicidal.”


On Monday, the city of Rochester confirmed it has suspended officers involved in the incident with pay at least for the remainder of the investigation. It’s currently unclear exactly how many officers were suspended as there were multiple on scene at the time.

In a statement Monday, Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren bemoaned not being able to take more serious actions against the officers. She noted, she will be asking state lawmakers to help her change laws to “allow cities to more quickly issue discipline in cases like this one.”

In the meantime, Mike Mazzeo, President of the Rochester Police Locust Club, defended the officer who pepper sprayed the child. He argued it wasn’t “a simple situation” and the police involved in the incident technically didn’t do anything wrong.

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