Video shows Maryland police using pepper spray on girl after bicycle crash

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HAGERSTOWN, Md. -- Body-camera videos of police using pepper spray on a 15-year-old girl have caused widespread uproar.

Police released the two videos to the public Thursday and defended their actions, but the girl's family and attorney said at a news conference that the young woman had been mistreated by cops.

The incident began Sunday when Hagerstown police officers received a 911 call that a bicyclist hit a car, according to police.

One of the videos shows the girl walking away from police and trying to ride away on her bike before she was pulled back by an officer.

The girl can be heard yelling "get off of me!" repeatedly and struggling with the officer for several minutes, before two cops lifted her up and put her in the back of a police car.

The videos show passersby watching as officers repeatedly tell the girl, who was in handcuffs, "you are going to get sprayed," and ordered her to put her feet inside the patrol car.

The girl continued to scream until an officer aimed his pepper spray at her through the open car window and another officer closed the door.

The girl is heard saying, "I can't breathe."

Her lawyer said she was sprayed four times, while the police chief said it was just once.

Police have yet to publicly release the name of the minor.

The attorney, Robin Ficker, posted a video taken by a witness on the scene, and the lawyer included the following message on Facebook:

"This little girl, 5 ft. 105 lbs, was brutalized by Hagerstown police after, she, on her bike, was hit by a car, but refused medical treatment," the post reads. "They slammed her against a wall, arrested her for refusing treatment, maced her 4 times in the police car while handcuffed, and took her to the police station instead of the hospital!"

Hagerstown Police Chief Victor Brito strongly defended the actions of the officers in a news conference Thursday, saying the girl had become "assaultive" and "combative" and would not cooperate with police.

The cops told her they wanted to contact her parents, but she wouldn't give them any information.

"Every time we use a level of force, regardless whether we are justified or not, we lose," Brito told reporters.

The police chief said the officers had tried to deescalate the situation and recognized that using pepper spray did not "look great" for law enforcement, but was necessary as a last resort.

The girl, her mother, and Ficker spoke to reporters to express anger with the actions of the police, which led to demonstrations in the city and ignited a storm on social media.

"The cops knew she might not be OK, but they didn't treat her that way," Ficker said.

The girl's mother told reporters that her daughter may not have acted in the best way in the situation, but that didn't give police justification for their actions.

"You don't take a 15-year-old child, and put them in handcuffs, and shut a door, and mace them four times," the girl's mother said. "Why was she not transported to the hospital? Why?"

Police said the girl refused medical treatment at the scene.

The teen was charged with disorderly conduct, assault and possession of marijuana, according to police.

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