Mother of 9-year-old girl sprayed with pepper by police says she pleaded for mental health specialist instead

Top line

The mother of the 9-year-old girl detained and pepper sprayed by police in Rochester, New York, last week accuses the officers involved of mismanaging the situation by responding to her daughter’s nervous breakdown with unnecessary force .


In one interview with The Washington Post On Wednesday evening Elba Pope, 30, who announced plans to sue the city over the Jan.29 incident the day before, said she begged police to call a mental health specialist instead. of detaining her daughter, fearing that she will find herself in the midst of a nervous breakdown.

“I was like, ‘We need sanity over there,'” Pope recalled, adding that her daughter had experienced a similar emotional breakdown a few months ago, but requests for a less forceful response were “ignored.”

Pope’s daughter was sent home the next day after being taken to hospital for a medical evaluation, but her mother is worried about the aftermath of the incident, story NBC Affiliate News10NBC that her daughter is now afraid of the police and is going to start therapy.

The Rochester Police Department did not immediately respond to Forbes‘request for comment, but Deputy Police Chief Andre Anderson told a press conference on Jan.31 that officers were trying to “secure” the girl and that she was suicidal, while union president Rochester Police Mike Mazzeo defended the officers’ behavior and called the situation “difficult”.

What to watch out for

The Pope and his lawyers on Tuesday filed a formal notice stating that they planned to sue the city of Rochester for “emotional distress, assault, battery and personal injury, excessive force, false arrest, false imprisonment” and other potential violations of the law. “Constitutional rights” of the Pope. girl.

Chief critic

“This is not the first incident where Rochester has mismanaged people who have had a mental health crisis,” said Lorenzo Napolitano, one of Pope’s attorneys. The Washington Post, referring to the death of Daniel Prude, a 41-year-old black man, who muffled to death in September last year after police placed him in a balaclava while suffering from a mental health issue.

Key context

After body camera footage of Rochester Police’s detention of the 9-year-old girl – whose name has not been made public – drew wide condemnation, one of the officers involved in the incident was suspended and two others placed on administrative leave. Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren has promised “Change” in the department.

Further reading

“Sequence of Rochester Police restraining and pepper spraying 9-year-old girl sparks outrage” (Forbes)