A video of a cop pepper-spraying a teenage girl as she sits in the back of a police cruiser has sparked protests in Hagerstown, Maryland. But the police department says it stands by the officer’s actions.
Hagerstown officers responded to a call on Sunday that a cyclist had struck a car. Body camera footage released by the department shows an officer confronting the cyclist, a 15-year-old girl. She tries to leave the scene, but officers restrain her, saying they’re going to call her parents.
“You’re being detained now,” an officer says as another cop helps restrain the girl.
“Get the fuck off of me, I’m not going nowhere,” the girl can be heard saying during the struggle.
“You let that badge go to your head,” a bystander tells the cops as they order him to back away.
The officers cuff the girl’s hands behind her back as she struggles and weeps. One cop tells her that they need to contact her parents because she’s underage. “I’m gonna get in fucking trouble,” she protests.
Two officers pick up the girl and carry her to a police cruiser. The girl can be heard screaming as they put her in the back of the vehicle. Her legs block the door from closing, and one of the officers warns the girl that she will be pepper-sprayed if she doesn’t cooperate. Moments later, the cop sprays her through the partly open window, causing the girl to shriek in pain.
The girl’s attorney, Robin Ficker, said on Thursday that his client was administered “street justice” by the police, according to Herald-Mail Media.
“What happened to her Sunday is something that should never happen to anyone’s daughter,” Ficker said.
Hagerstown police Capt. Paul Kifer defended the officer’s actions, telling WTOP that the spray was necessary so police could close the car door.
“At that point, as would be even with an adult, if you’re refusing to give us information on a traffic situation, at that point you can be arrested until we determine who you are,” Kifer told the station.
The accident left the girl unconscious for approximately two minutes, Ficker said.
“I was confused as to what was going on” during the encounter, the girl said Thursday during an appearance with her attorney.
Police said the girl had caused the accident, and has been charged with assault, two counts of second-degree disorderly conduct, failure to obey a traffic device and marijuana possession.
Ficker said he will defend the girl against all charges.