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Elba Pope has filed a notice of claim - the first step in a lawsuit - accusing Rochester Police in New York of 'infliction of emotional distress, assault, battery, excessive force, false arrest, false imprisonment'.
Elba said she was taking the legal action to bring about change.
Speaking to WXXI News, she said: "A change in how they respond to mental health, a change in how you treat minors, a kid, a nine-year-old.
"Under any circumstances it's not OK to pepper spray a nine-year-old that's already detained inside of the car."
Officers were called to reports of 'family trouble' on Friday (29 January) and the girl initially tried to flee, with bodycam footage showing her being restrained as she desperately screamed for her dad.
After refusing to put her feet in the car, an officer can be heard telling her: "This is your last chance, otherwise pepper spray's going in your eyeballs."
Another officer then added, 'Just spray her at this point', and she was subsequently sprayed.
She was taken to Rochester General Hospital before being released, and Elba said she is doing better now.
She said: "She feels like she got me in trouble, she's so apologetic and so emotional and I explained to her every step of the way, you're not in trouble, you're good."
I asked for more information about the officer who sprayed the pepper spray in the face of the 9-year-old child. Here's Mazzeo's response: He made a decision that he thought was the best action to take. #roc @DandC pic.twitter.com/yrTt6EaD9H
- Will Cleveland (@WillCleveland13) January 31, 2021
Pope's attorney, Lorenzo Napolitano, was not surprised the bodycam footage made international headlines.
He said: "When you see this happen and you see her not getting the help she needs, it's a gut punch, to be honest with you.
"It just really pulls on your heart strings to hear that and I think we're all ingrained to respond to a child and recognise when a child, an innocent person is in distress."
Mayor Lovely Warren condemned the officers at a press conference at the city hall on Sunday (31 January), stating she was 'very concerned about how this young girl was handled by our police department'.
She added: "I have a 10-year-old daughter. So she's a child; she's a baby.
"And I can tell you that this video, as a mother, is not anything that you want to see. It's not.
"We have to understand compassion, empathy.
"When you have a child that is suffering in this way and calling out for her dad... I saw my baby's face in her face."
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