The president of Rochester, N.Y.’s police union on Sunday defended the actions of officers seen in a video restraining a 9-year-old girl who was pepper-sprayed when she disobeyed commands, reports said.
Locust Club President Michael Mazzeo said during a news conference that police at the scene were dealing with a chaotic domestic situation. He said the girl had a history of extreme outbursts, according to Rochester’s WHEC-TV.
“This is incredible that we’re dealing with a 9-year-old girl, but this is not the first time she has been put in handcuffs,” he said. “We’re dealing with a very, very difficult situation and what police officers are confronted and faced. And the limited resources that are out there.”
Mazzeo said officers were told the girl was suicidal and that she threatened to harm others.
“There was a short blast of CAP-STUN. It worked. It calmed her down. It got her in and they were still trying to get information from her at that point. We’re not saying that’s the best answer or the right answer. Nobody has those answers,” he continued.
WARNING: GRAPHIC VIDEO
The Rochester Police Department released footage of the Friday incident after Mayor Lovely Warren expressed her concern for the child.
A screenshot of bodycam footage released by the Rochester Police Department (RPD).
“I have a 10-year-old child, so she’s a child, she’s a baby,” Warren said. “This video, as a mother, is not anything you want to see.”
Mazzeo urged people to listen to what the child’s mother was telling her in the video. He said the job of the police is to help, not hurt people, according to the station.
“We have so many that are quick to criticize but offer no solutions,” he continued.
The Rochester Police Locust Club acts as the union for the city’s police force, according to its website.