According to the body cam footage, an officer confronted the woman carrying her child after a report from a shoplifter near a Rite Aid. "Did you steal from this shop?" says an officer to the woman. "Oh come on, they said you stole." What did you take? Tell me the truth! "The woman said repeatedly that she had not stolen anything, to which the officer replied," I have no time for BS, you'd better be quick with me. "
(WARNING: The following Twitter thread contains violent videos, photos, and languages that may not be suitable for all readers.)
This morning, the PAB announced that there was body-worn camera footage showing an RPD officer teasing a woman with her toddler on February 22nd. RPD then released these recordings to the public. This clip from a surveillance camera is part of this footage. https://t.co/3aWyRFRM7v
– Rochester Police Accountability Board (@RochesterPAB) March 5, 2021
The woman denied stealing anything and even opened her purse to show the officer. She then ran across the street with her child, according to body cam footage. The officers grabbed the woman on the ground and sprayed her as she got up to grab her child. Her daughter can be heard screaming throughout the incident in which an officer and her mother each pulled for her. While the child was not being sprayed, officers viewing the footage found that it could be exposed and questioned how the police handled the child.
"As we all know from (previous) protests, pepper spray immediately goes everywhere, exposing this kid to the gas," said Councilor Mary Lupien after watching the footage. Lupien described a second policeman who broke his mother's grip as a "karate punch" and noted that it happened while a policeman on the ground "put his knee on her back with all his body weight to handcuff her" , "while the child was watching."
Lupien also commented on a second video of an officer holding the child while the mother is in a police patrol car.
"It's very similar to the incident with the 9-year-old," said Lupien. "" What's your name? Tell me your name, dear. Your mother is fine. What's your name? "Officials repeatedly asked her: He must have said it 50 times. Really, that's how you reassure a child At some point he says, "Can you move your car here because it looks bad that I'm holding back a child? 3 years old?" "
After the incident, the woman was charged with entering and was given an entrance ticket to the court. "When the store confirmed it had thrown a number of items off the shelf and refused repeated requests to leave," interim police chief Cynthia Herriott-Sullivan wrote in a March 4 email to Council President Loretta ScottThe Rochester Democrat and the Chronicle.
Details of the case were revealed at a press conference held by the city's Police Accountability Board (PAB) on Friday. PAB officials were made aware of the situation after a viewer video posted on social media.
"These troubling incidents show that the Rochester Police Department must fundamentally change its organizational culture," said the PAB said in a statement. "These incidents also confirm our community's call for a fundamental redefinition of public safety."
PAB officials also noted that the incident had "disturbing parallels" with the department's confrontation with a 9-year-old girl days earlier. “Black mothers were involved in both incidents. Both were black children. Both obviously embroiled black people in a crisis. Both officers involved using pepper spray on or around a black child, ”he said Statement noted. "Both involved apparent intimidation from viewers who filmed the incident," the statement added. "Without the courage of the bystanders, who were willing to stand up and hold the police to account, both incidents may never have come to light."
"The community has played such a big role in disseminating this information in both cases," said PAB member Danielle Tucker during the press conference. "Sometimes I don't think the community understands the importance of spreading this information. When you find out about this on Facebook and see this on Facebook from community activists, it's kind of disturbing because you want to see it from them, but you also think the information should be brought to the board's attention in some other way. "
The city's mayor also pointed out the importance of accessible body material. "When such incidents occur, I am relieved that I have made sure our police are wearing body-worn cameras so we can see what is happening on our streets and bring officers to justice," said Lovely Warren, mayor from Rochester, in a statement. Warren added changes to police plans and policies will be in addition to "mandatory training for officers on racism and implied bias".
During the press conference Police Chief Cynthia Herriott-Sullivan confirmed on Friday that the officer involved in the arrest had been taken on administrative leave pending investigation into the incident. Calling the incident "troubling", Herriott-Sullivan noted that just because the department can use pepper spray doesn't mean it should. “Just because we can do certain things, should we? Can we get to the same place with a different strategy? "
The use of pepper spray isn't the only test the department has faced. Last year officials put a "spit hood" over the head of Daniel Prude, who lives in Black Rochester, after he was found naked in the streets. His death was counted as manslaughter caused by "complications of asphyxiation with physical restraint". No officers were charged in the case. Daily Kos reported. It is not enough to condemn these acts. Rochester police officers need to be held accountable for this consistent use of force and new guidelines put in place.