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Rochester Police address YouTube video
Rochester, N.Y.-- Rochester Police Chief James M. Sheppard held a press conference Wednesday, in response to a video posted on YouTube titled "RPD abusing pregnant woman and her 16 year old brother."
Chief Sheppard promised a full investigation. "if you look at the video you see an arrest in process. You do not see what occurred prior to, and that is the most important piece," he said.
According to Sheppard, officers responded to Seyle Terrace after reports of a fight involving five to six people Tuesday around 5 p.m.
Investigators say officers encountered several people including Brenda Hardaway, 21, and her brother, Romengeno Hardaway, 16, who were both shown being arrested in the video.
They say Romengeno became verbally abusive to officers and they decided to take him into custody. However, according to police, Romengeno refused to comply with officers orders, and thats when Brenda took out a can of pepper spray.
"She physically inerfered with the arrest and grabbed the officer and then she pulled out the pepper spray," said Chief Sheppard.
Neighbors says they did not see any evidence of pepper spray and were questioning the use of force. The cell phone footage shows the officer striking the woman in the head and taking her to the ground.
"He slapped and punched her for no reason and i kept screaming 'she's pregnant', said Felicia Chatman Johnson. "It was ugly."
Officers were able to handcuff both Romengeno and Brenda, and they were taken into custody.
Officer Lucas Krull, who was seen in the YouTube video, was treated and released from Highland Hospital with minor injuries during the incident.
Brenda was transported to Rochester General Hospital where she was examined and released. She has been charged with second degree assault, resisting arrest, menacing, and unlawful possession of a noxious material.
Romengeno was charged with two counts of disorderly conduct and resisting arrest.
A review process is underway to determine whether officers complied with RPD training.
RPD released the following statement in a media release:
While the video may cause concern relative to the officers tactics, I stress that it is important that the incident be reviewed in the totality of the circumstances, and to withhold judgment until all the facts are known, including those parts of the event not shown on the video.