Last month, the people of Rochester, New York were unfortunately grateful for security cameras and people who break out their phones during a crisis, after two Rochester police officers violently arrested a Black woman and her three-year-old daughter.
The mother elected to keep herself and her child anonymous, but the internet has been demanding justice since the February incident.
Bodycam footage was recently released by the department, taken by another police officer.
You can watch the footage here:
In the footage, at the 1:23:34 minute-mark, a Black mother appears with her three-year-old daughter, whose face has been blurred for privacy purposes.
Prior to the footage, the mother was confronted outside of a store by two police officers who claimed they had received a complaint she had been shoplifting. She denied the claim and even showed them the contents of her bag.
One officer was indignant and stated:
"Oh, come on, they said you stole. Just tell me what you took."
"I don't have time for B.S. You better be quick with me."
According to the police report, the mother attempted to leave shortly thereafter. The police officers proceeded to chase her and apprehended her, which is where the footage began.
The incident escalated quickly, as the officers not only attempted to arrest her, but one officer also pushed her to the ground. The other officer pulled her three-year-old away from her and struck her hand repeatedly to make her let go of her toddler's arm.
Once the second officer had the child, the first officer proceeded to pepper-spray the woman.
The second officer returned and suggested they reposition their vehicle, stating:
"[It] doesn't look good that I have to, like, restrain a three-year-old."
The internet was absolutely outraged by the event.
I have had it with the Rochester Police Dept! First it was the elderly man they pushed down (he became brain injure… https://t.co/O3V51SnfMN— Miss Adorable (@Miss Adorable)1615231631.0
@ImMissAdorable Good Heavens ,that's a baby arrest those men! No matter what their reason that's assault! How can R… https://t.co/PvhYtFyzvU— Kimo is smarter then her typo's (@Kimo is smarter then her typo's)1615237811.0
[THAT TODDLER IS GOING TO BE TRAUMATIZED FOR LIFE ALONG WITH THE MOTHER. BREAKS MY HEART]: Cop Pepper Sprays Black… https://t.co/S80sETOKTI— Director CMack (@Director CMack)1615214889.0
We need to fire all of the cops in the Rochester PD. They will continue to assault black mothers and children and o… https://t.co/3dAMuDIxTQ— Jbaby56 (@Jbaby56)1615218012.0
It was not included in the report if the mother sustained injuries or if the department or if any charges were levied for shoplifting.
The child did not sustain physical injuries but was frightened and emotional after the event.
The Rochester Police Department intends to include new training for their officers to better address future incidents.
RPD says it is rolling out new “compassion fatigue,” “mindset,” “leadership,” and “de-escalation” training programs… https://t.co/dQQC8SZUM3— Jennifer Lewke (@Jennifer Lewke)1614976109.0
In the Rochester area, there is a troubling pattern developing between police officers, Black mothers and Black children.
There was this situation in February 2021 with this Black mother and her 3-year-old daughter. Previously, a 9-year-old Black girl from the same district was handcuffed and pepper-sprayed after her mother called the police for help, when she was suffering a very physical "mental breakdown," according to her mother.
Rochester's Police Accountability Board released a statement:
"Both incidents involved Black mothers. Both involved Black children. Both involved Black people obviously in crisis. Both involved officers using pepper spray on or around a Black child."
.@RochesterNYPD chief says officers were dispatched for shoplifting complaint. Woman ran a/child in her arms. When… https://t.co/JfdihPfCRj— Jennifer Lewke (@Jennifer Lewke)1614975852.0
Interim Department Chief Cynthia Herriott-Sullivan intends to do something about this, and her department's potential overuse of pepper-spray, stating:
"[When] incidents like this occur, I am relieved that I ensured body-worn cameras."
"We do have policies on the use of things such as pepper spray .... generally ... if a person is physically resisting then you're safe on pepper spray usage. But obviously, you don't want to take it too far."
"Just because we can do certain things, should we? Can we get to the same place by utilizing a different strategy?"
This is a very important question all police departments should be asking. Hopefully, this is a sign of progress.