Police officers in Maryland are being criticized after the public gained access to video footage of them arresting and pepper-spraying a 15-year-old girl.
Officers arrived on the scene after getting a call of a cyclist got into a collision with a car. Body camera footage shows the officers grab the young girl as she tried to ride away from the scene of the incident on her bike. For several minutes , she struggles with police while saying “Get off of me!”
The officers can be heard threatening “you are going to get sprayed,” making her cooperate by forcing her feet in the squad car she was placed in while handcuffed. That’s when an officer pepper-sprayed her through the window of the vehicle.
Hagerstown Police defended the officer’s actions and say they only used pepper spray once, while the girls’ lawyer says they used it up to four times. This implies that spraying the child at all was warranted in the first place.
“This little girl, 5 ft. 105 lbs, was brutalized by Hagerstown police after, she, on her bike, was hit by a car, but refused medical treatment,” said Robin Ficker, the family’s attorney. “They slammed her against a wall, arrested her for refusing treatment, maced her 4 times in the police car while handcuffed, and took her to the police station instead of the hospital!”
Hagerstown Police Chief Victor Brito chose to defend his officers by claiming that the young girl in the video had become “assaultive” and “combative” and that the officers acted completely within their right, according to CNN.
“You don’t take a 15-year-old child, and put them in handcuffs, and shut a door, and mace them four times,” said the girl’s mother. “Why was she not transported to the hospital? Why?”
These and many other questions remain unanswered following this incident. Hopefully, the young girl and her family are able to get the healing they deserve after this traumatizing experience.
Photo Credit: Hagerstown Police (body cam footage screenshot)