*Rochester’s Police Accountability Board [PAB] says it is “disturbed” by body camera video it says shows officers pepper-spraying a woman late last month in the presence of a 3-year-old child, just weeks after some of the same officers were involved in the pepper-spraying of a handcuffed 9-year-old girl.
The footage, shot on Feb. 22, shows an officer on Portland Ave. trying to arrest a woman who was accused of shoplifting, arguing with store employees, and refusing to leave. RPD says officers approached a woman who they say matched the description of the reported individual and a “struggle” ensued, prompting use of the pepper-spray and arrest.
They acknowledge the presence of the child, but add the child was not hurt or pepper-sprayed. Police say the woman was issued an appearance ticket, and that an officer involved has been placed on administrative duty pending an investigation.
The incident comes about a month after a nine-year-old child was pepper-sprayed on Harris Street while cuffed in the back of a police car. The PAB says it sees “troubling parallels” between the two incidents.
“Both incidents involved Black mothers,” the PAB said in a statement. “Both involved Black children. Both involved Black people obviously in crisis. Both involved officers using pepper-spray on or around a Black child. Both appear to have not involved the Person in Crisis Team, the Family and Crisis Intervention Team, or mental health professionals. Both involved police officers doing nothing to effectively de-escalate the situation. Both involved apparent intimidation of bystanders filming the incident.”
The PAB says the two officers allegedly involved in the Portland Avenue incident were reportedly also present during the Harris Street incident.