YouTube video center of Rochester Police Department investigation

Posted at: 08/28/2013 4:22 PM
Updated at: 08/28/2013 5:13 PM
By: Joangel Concepcion

Abusive and an excessive use of power. That's what a lot of people are saying about a YouTube video that shows police arresting a woman who says she's pregnant.

Police say they were called to Seyle Terrace Tuesday evening for a domestic dispute. When they arrived, they found multiple people fighting on the street. Police say when they placed 16-year-old Romengeno Hardaway under arrest for disorderly conduct, his sister, 21-year-old Brenda Hardaway interfered, threatening police with pepper spray. Police tried to place her under arrest and it was that incident that was caught on camera by a neighbor. The video is now part of an investigation.

News10NBC received an overwhelming number of calls and emails about the video. The video had around 10,000 hits Wednesday morning. Now it's at 25,000 hits. Many people say the officer went too far, but many others disagree, they say the woman should have complied especially because she was pregnant.

Felicia Johnson said, “He just  punched her in the head, he kept slapping her, he dragged her, he threw her.”

Felicia Johnson says she's heard of incidents involving police, but she has never witnessed it first hand until now.

Johnson said, “You're supposed to be here to serve us and protect us and I don't feel protected by the Rochester Police Department.”

But it wasn't only seen by the people who live near by. Thousands of people have also seen the video on YouTube. It begins when police are trying to arrest a woman. When the officer asks her to put her hands behind her back, she says no. She is repeatedly telling the officer that she's five months pregnant as he is trying to restrain her. Then the officer hits the woman in her head and that's what's causing outrage in the community.

News10NBC went to the police for answers. Chief James Sheppard says it is important to consider what may have happened before the cameras started rolling.

Chief James Sheppard, Rochester Police Department, said, “I think, that in the course of any arrest, what we want to have is compliance and that would prevent us from using any other techniques. When we say you are under arrest, put your hands behind your back, we expect you to comply.”

But what about the pregnancy. News10NBC asked if the officer could have used less force.

Chief Sheppard said, “The fact that she may have been pregnant or not, I do not know. But the fact of this circumstance is that our actions were dictated by her actions.”

Chief Sheppard says the strike was part of a technique used by officers.

Chief Sheppard said, “When we receive resistance from an individual, we may strike you in a way that changes your channel so to speak. In a way that changes your resistance.”

One that has this community demanding change from Rochester Police Department.

Johnson said, “I hope they do better than this.”

News10NBC tried to get in contact with the family about the incident but we were not able to reach them. Brenda Hardaway was taken to the hospital and released. She was charged Wednesday morning with second degree assault, resisting arrest, third degree menacing and unlawful possession of a noxious material. Her brother, Romengeno, was also charged with two counts of disorderly conduct and resisting arrest.

The officer involved in the incident was also taken to the hospital for minor injuries. Police have not taken any action. The officer remains on the street. Chief Sheppard says everything is under review. If they find the officer used excessive force, they will take the proper actions.