‘Please wipe my eyes’: Video shows Rochester girl, 9, pepper-sprayed by police

ROCHESTER, N.Y. — Officials in Rochester, New York, released body camera footage Thursday that showed a 9-year-old Black girl pleading “please don’t do this to me” and “it burns” after she was pepper-sprayed while handcuffed in the back seat of a police cruiser for 16 minutes.

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Mayor Lovely A. Warren said one officer was suspended with pay and two others were placed on administrative leave, the Democrat and Chronicle reported. The incident occurred on Jan. 29, and a shortened version of the video had been released Sunday, the newspaper reported.

At a news conference, Warren said the city released almost 90 minutes of additional video to be transparent. The city provided roughly 16 minutes of body cam footage initially, the Democrat and Chronicle reported.

The video footage shows officers restraining and scolding the screaming child, The Associated Press reported. The officer can be heard telling the girl they are losing patience as they struggled in the snow to put her in the back of a police cruiser.

The newly released footage shows the child struggling in the back of the vehicle as the pepper spray runs from her eyes and into her mouth, the Democrat and Chronicle reported. The girl’s mother, Elba Pope, had called police because the child had been making threats to harm herself and the mother, WROC reported. The child was in the back of the vehicle while police waited for an ambulance to arrive.

New footage below contains images that are disturbing and sensitive:

“Please wipe my eyes. Wipe my eyes, please,” the girl screams at the officer, who puts her in the back seat of the cruiser and closes its door.

“Holy Toledo, that was crazy,” one officer can be heard in the footage.

Also in the bodycam footage, the girl can be heard pleading with the officer.

“Officer, please don’t do this to me,” the girl says.

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

The girl asks to have the handcuffs removed so that she can get the liquid out of her mouth.

“If you stick your head towards the window the cold air is going to feel nice,” an officer tells the fourth-grader.

“It’s burning too bad,” she says.

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

In a statement, the Rochester Police Department said the girl was “agitated when she saw her custodial parent.”

“This caused the minor to pull away and kick at officers, which required an officer to take the minor down to the ground.”

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said in a statement that he was “sickened” and “furious” after viewing the new footage.

This new video of Rochester police officers handcuffing and pepper-spraying a 9-year-old girl is even more shocking and disturbing than the last,” Cuomo said. “New Yorkers in every corner of the state are sickened by these actions and as a father of three daughters, I’m furious. There must be a thorough and competent investigation -- period. This is symptomatic of a broader problem -- the relationship between police and communities is damaged and needs to be fixed, and that’s why we’re requiring police departments statewide to reimagine their forces or forgo state funding. Officers are sworn to protect and serve and this horrific behavior can never be tolerated.”

“I continue to share our community’s outrage for the treatment of this child and have ensured that she and her family have been connected to the support they need through our Person in Crisis team,” Warren said in a statement.

>> Daniel Prude case: 7 Rochester officers suspended by mayor

Last month’s incident was another high-profile case in Rochester.

Last September, seven police officers were suspended for their involvement in the March 2020 asphyxiation death of Daniel T. Prude, a 41-year-old Black man who was placed in a hood and pinned to the ground.

Prude, of Chicago, was visiting his family in March when police encountered him running naked through the streets during the early morning hours of March 23, the Democrat and Chronicle reported.