New York State Senator Samra Brouk on Monday introduced legislation that would ban police use of “any chemical agent … against any minor in any circumstance.” The bill is in response to the local police’s use of pepper spray against a nine-year-old girl last Friday.
The police arrived on the scene following a family distress call and determined that the young victim was a danger to herself or others. The body camera footage shows officers placing handcuffs on the child while she was on the ground in the snow, and eventually spraying her in the face with pepper spray when she refused to get in the police car. One officer has been suspended and two others placed on administrative leave pending a full investigation.
In March, an encounter with the Rochester police left Daniel Prude, a Black man suffering from mental illness, dead from asphyxiation. Prude’s fatal police encounter mirrored that of George Floyd and similarly sparked protests around the city. The investigation into Prude’s death is ongoing.
New York state has implemented a number of police reforms in recent months. This latest incident occurred just weeks after Rochester implemented a Persons in Crisis hotline to provide a comprehensive and community-based response to support victims and families dealing with mental health issues. The mayor of Rochester said that the new system was not triggered because the call came in to dispatch. In June, New York state passed the Eric Garner Anti-Chokehold Act.