Police in Hagerstown, Md., have come under fire after body-camera footage showed an officer pepper-spraying a 15-year-old girl who was handcuffed in the back of a squad car.
Officers from the Hagerstown Police Department responded to the scene of an accident Sunday afternoon after the girl, whose identity has not been released, reportedly hit a car with her bicycle. ABC News reports that officers say the girl “had to be detained” and that she was pepper-sprayed because she became “assaultive” during the arrest.
Robin Ficker of College Park, Md., an attorney reportedly representing the girl and her family, said that the girl was struck by a car while riding her bike Sunday, causing her to hit her head. He said that she passed out for 30 seconds and that an ambulance was called. The girl told the paramedics that she was fine and didn’t need help, and that’s when police showed up.
Ficker said that as the girl tried to ride away on her bike, police reportedly pulled her off the bike, put her hands above her head and slammed her into a wall. Ficker posted a photo of the girl and video of the incident on his Facebook page, noting that the alleged victim is only 5 feet tall and weighs 105 pounds.
Watch video below:
According to ABC News, the driver of the vehicle involved in the accident said that the girl caused the accident by hitting the side of his car as he was driving through a green light. The driver told officers that the girl didn’t want to stay and wait for police, saying, “We almost had to forcibly keep her here.”
The video shows the girl resisting officers’ attempts to stop her from leaving the scene. She is subdued, handcuffed and eventually put into the back of a squad car, but not before reportedly kicking the body camera off an officer.
Once she is in the back of the police car, the girl refuses to put her feet inside the car. One officer tells her, “Put your feet in or you’re getting sprayed.” An officer then sprays her through the window, and as the girl cries and screams that she can’t breathe, another officer closes the squad-car door.
In a press conference Thursday, Hagerstown Police Chief Victor Brito said that the officers “applied their training and responded within the guidelines of the Hagerstown Police Department.”
“Sometimes the actions that we take aren’t pretty,” Brito said. “Sometimes they can look a little ugly, but they follow the policy, pattern and procedure for the Hagerstown Police Department.”
The teen was charged with disorderly conduct, two counts of second-degree assault, possession of marijuana and failure to obey a traffic device. She was taken to the Police Department and released to a parent.
Read more at ABC News.