Warning: This video contains footage that may disturb some viewers and the article discusses suicide.
A New York state police department has released a distressing video of officers handcuffing and pepper-spraying a 9-year-old girl as she screamed for her Dad.
The New York Times reported the incident occurred on Friday afternoon (local time) when officers were called to a family disturbance in the city of Rochester.
Bodycam footage posted by the police department shows officers restraining the young girl in the snow outside a row of houses, while she cries and screams: "I want my dad", "Can I just see my Dad please".
When the officers demanded she get in their vehicle, she asked if she could wipe the snow off her first due to the cold.
"You've had your chance, get in the car now," one of the officers can be heard saying. "You are going to go to jail... I don't care what you demand."
At one point an officer, annoyed with the screaming, told her to "stop acting like a child". She replied: "I am a child."
The officers then yell at the girl to get up, but she protests that she can't due to a sore arm and being in an uncomfortable position.
"Sit up, it's your last chance otherwise pepper spray is going in your eyeballs," a female officer tells the girl.
Police proceed to pepper-spray the nine-year-old as an officer closes the door, saying: "unbelievable".
During a news conference on Sunday (local time) Rochester's deputy police chief Andre Anderson said the girl was suicidal at the time.
"She indicated she wanted to kill herself and she wanted to kill her mom," he said, the New York Times reported.
Anderson told reporters the girl had attempted to flee and police decided to take her to the hospital, but she wouldn't get in the car.
"It didn't appear as if she was resisting the officers, she was trying not to be restrained to go to the hospital," Anderson said. "As the officers made numerous attempts to try to get her in the car, an officer sprayed the young child with OC spray to get her in the car."
Rochester's mayor Lovely Warren announced that the officers involved would be suspended until the conclusion of an internal investigation, but state laws prevented her from taking further action.
Warren said the girl reminded her of her own 10-year-old daughter, the New York Times reported.
"I can tell you that this video, as a mother, is not anything that you want to see. This is not something that any of us should want to justify, can justify and it is something we have to change."
Where to find help and support:
- Shine (domestic violence) - 0508 744 633
- Women's Refuge - 0800 733 843 (0800 REFUGE)
- Need to Talk? - Call or text 1737
- What's Up - 0800 WHATS UP (0800 942 8787)
- Lifeline - 0800 543 354 or (09) 5222 999 within Auckland
- Youthline - 0800 376 633, text 234, email email@example.com or online chat
- Samaritans - 0800 726 666
- Depression Helpline - 0800 111 757
- Suicide Crisis Helpline - 0508 828 865 (0508 TAUTOKO)
- Shakti Community Council - 0800 742 584