The National Disabled Law Students Association condemns actions by Rochester Police Department officers and demands accountability.

On January 29th, Rochester Police Department officers using excessive force inflicted physical and psychological injury upon a 9-year old Black girl who was in a mental health crisis. These officers, despite knowing that this child was in crisis, used not only physical intimidation and violence, but a chemical irritant to subdue her.

Our nation is no stranger to occurrences of police brutality against our marginalized communities. While NDLSA is disturbed and disappointed by the footage of this response, we remain unsurprised. This incident is one in a seemingly interminable list of inappropriate aggression inflicted upon disabled children by undertrained and overzealous law enforcement officers. Across the country, disabled children- particularly Black disabled children- are regularly subjected to similar unwarranted abuse in their schools and communities.

It is instances such as these that serve as reminders that police officers are not suitable, nor are they safe, resources to respond to mental health crises. Disabled people in crisis deserve the assistance of trained physical and mental health professionals and should never be subjected to violence in response to trauma.

As current and future members of the legal community, we demand increased methods for ensuring accountability amongst law enforcement officers, generally, and immediate accountability for the officers involved in this gross display of excessive force against a child. We further call for the addition of emergency teams of behavioral and physical health professionals to respond to mental health crises across the country, and we hope for a future where disabled persons are not targeted as criminals based on manifestations of their diagnoses.

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