A Rochester, NY police union official defended a police officer who pepper sprayed a handcuffed 9-year-old girl who threatened to kill her own mother.
Nine Rochester police officers responded to a 911 call from a parent who feared for her life. The parent said the child threatened to harm herself and ran away from home on Friday.
Body cam footage shows the hysterical girl handcuffed in the back seat of a patrol car.
The video footage shows several officers wrestled the girl to the ground before she is placed kicking and screaming into the squad car.
The child screamed, "I want my dad, I want my dad!" while a female officer tried to calm her down.
"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. Come on, let's go," she said, before spraying the child.
On Monday, following the public uproar, Mike Mazzeo, president of the Locust Club, defended the officers, saying no rules were violated.
Mazzeo said the officer was familiar with the child who had been detained on a previous occasion.
"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 [mental health] resources that are out there."
He added: "It was 14 degrees out. At different times, they're talking to her about hypothermia. They're worried about a number of things. There's no ambulance to put her in. When it's determined that she needs help and there's a mental hygiene [issue], they have to be restrained. There was a decision when they couldn't get her into the car despite everything they were trying. ... There was a short blast of capsicum. It worked. It calmed her down. It got her in."
The girl was transported to a mental hospital for a psychological evaluation.