The head of a police union in Rochester, New York defended officers after body camera videos showed officers handcuffing and pepper spraying a distressed nine-year-old girl.
However, Mike Mazzeo, president of the Rochester Police Locust Club, the union representing uniformed officers, told reporters the girl "could have been hurt worse. [The officer] 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 have been hurt worse. It's very very difficult to get somebody into the back of a police car like that. And she's nine years old. Imagine what happens when we have a full grown individual."
In the footage, the girl is seen repeatedly screaming "I want my dad" as officers restrained her. When officers pushed her to the ground, she begged them to stop while lying in the snow, the footage shows.
The video shows the girl telling officers she did not want to get in the car until she had seen her father. The officers at the scene initially attempt to calm the girl, but grow increasingly impatient. "Get in the car, I'm done telling you," a male officer is heard telling her. When the girl asks for someone to get the snow off her, an officer replies: "You had your chances."
Later, a female officer attempts to convince the girl to sit inside the vehicle before threatening to pepper spray her if she doesn't oblige. "Come on, I'm gonna pepper spray you and I don't want to, so sit back... this is your last chance otherwise pepper spray is going in your eyeballs," she says. As the girl continues to plead for her father, a male officer says: "Just spray her... just spray her at this point." The girl screamed and yelled for someone to wipe her eyes before the officers placed her fully in the vehicle and shut the doors. "Unbelievable," an officer said.