Last Friday, police in Rochester, NY handcuffed and pepper sprayed a 9-year-old girl. The officers invoked the use of force when the child refused to get in the back of a police car, begging instead to call her father on the phone.
The bodycam footage from the incident was released on Sunday afternoon, according to WHEC.
WARNING: video contains graphic language and images
As the footage captured, the event began when police responded to a "family trouble" call.
Ultimately, nine patrol cars arrived at the scene. The child had been arguing with her mother, claiming she wanted to go to her father's house despite the fact her mother had custody.
Their disagreement continued once Rochester Police Department officers showed up.
The nearly 9 minute standoff between the child, her mother and several officers ended with police handcuffing the 9-year-old girl, ushering her into the back of a police car and pepper spraying her when she refused to lift her leg into the cruiser.
Not surprisingly, the clip sparked outrage when it made the rounds on the internet.
But despite all that anger, Rochester Police Union Chief Mike Mazzeo argued no rules were broken by officers throughout the incident.
The Rochester police union chief responded to the pepper spraying of a handcuffed 9 year-old girl by defending the… https://t.co/35pFvzfcsI— Joshua Potash (@Joshua Potash)1612190224.0
In his response to a question posed at a press conference following the release of the video, Mazzeo began by defending the officers involved.
"They were trying to get her into the car. He made a decision there that he thought was the best action to take. It resulted in no injury to her."
"Had they had to go and push further and use more force, there's a good chance she could've been hurt worse."
"When asked about the psychological impact of the incident on the child, Mazzeo instead pointed to the trauma caused by the her family upbringing."
Rochester First reported Mazzeo defended the officers on a police basis as well.
"When it's determined that she needs help, and there's a mental hygiene, they have to be restrained. If that's not going to be the policy then we need to change them but they have to operate on what they have and what they can utilize,"
People were appalled by Mazzeo's comments and his rationale.
@JoshuaPotash Abuse apologists. If cops can't find a non-violent way to put a 9 year old in a cop car (which they s… https://t.co/daB0sWvY95— colonialcountry🌊🌊🌊 (@colonialcountry🌊🌊🌊)1612190636.0
@JoshuaPotash He basically just what-about-black-on-black-crime'd the question about the little girl's psychologica… https://t.co/KOZYHiwPyO— Devin Nunes' Alt-Mom (@Devin Nunes' Alt-Mom)1612190977.0
@JoshuaPotash The audacity to say this 9 year old child wasn’t harmed. She was suicidal and thrown to the ground, h… https://t.co/AEvlOENzsI— AshBee (@AshBee)1612194551.0
@JoshuaPotash “So sad. How does this girl have a chance in life? What will become of her future if the adults in he… https://t.co/nyNOxEjuxH— Nathan Van Twisk (@Nathan Van Twisk)1612208097.0
@JoshuaPotash “It resulted in no injury to her”...Except for the mental injury that will be with her for the rest of her life.— BiCoastal Elitist (@BiCoastal Elitist)1612190324.0
Not all Rochester officials felt the same as Mazzeo regarding the issue.
According to Democrat & Chronicle, one officer was suspended and two others were placed on administrative leave as a result of the incident.
Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren explained the decision and vowed to take further action to address the systems that allowed the event to occur.
"What happened Friday was simply horrible, and has rightly outraged, all of our community." "
"Unfortunately, state law and union contract prevents me from taking more immediate and serious action. I will lead the charge that these laws be changed as part of our response to the Governor's Executive Order 203."
"And, we will be asking our state legislators to join me, and make numerous changes in Civil Service Law that would allow cities to more quickly issue discipline in cases like this one."