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Another Rochester Arrest Causes Controversy

Officer on leave over pepper-spraying of woman near her 3-year-old girl
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 8, 2021 1:51 PM CST

(Newser) – Police in Rochester, New York, are facing their third controversy in months. The latest involves an officer who wrestled a woman to the ground and pepper-sprayed her as the woman's sobbing 3-year-old daughter stood nearby, reports the Democrat and Chronicle. The city released body camera footage as well as surveillance footage in this video. The child was not hit with spray, but critics say the police tactics were unduly harsh. "These disturbing incidents prove that the Rochester Police Department needs to fundamentally change its organizational culture," says the city's Police Accountability Board. The incident follows the death of Daniel Prude last year after he was placed in a "spit hood," and the pepper-spraying of a 9-year-old girl this year. In this latest incident on Feb. 22, police say they responded to a Rite Aid, where the woman was accused of shoplifting.

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The woman told the responding officer she didn't steal anything, but she ran off with her daughter while being questioned. The officer quickly caught her, and the confrontation ensued as he tried to place the woman in handcuffs. Another officer restrained the child, and he and the woman at one point engaged in what the D&C describes as a "tug-of-war" over the girl. "Can you pull your car over here, because it looks bad that I’m restraining a 3-year-old?" the second officer says at another point, per the Washington Post. The arresting officer has been placed on administrative leave, while the woman was charged with trespassing. The City Council president calls the incident "unacceptable," and a bystander in the police video might sum up the views of critics. "I know they got a job to do," he says of police, "but come on, man, she had a baby in her hand. ... When is this s--- going to stop?” (Read more Rochester, NY stories.)

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