The mother of a 13-year-old black girl whose videotaped arrest in Minnesota has provoked an outcry on social media says her daughter is “no angel” but was treated unfairly by police.
Davida Conover told The Associated Press on Saturday that her daughter has a mental illness. The mother would not specify the mental illness but contends that police were aware of it.
The AP does not generally identify family members by name when doing so could identify a juvenile charged with a crime, but Conover has spoken publicly and does not share her daughter’s last name.
A witness recorded video of the Sept. 26 arrest at a UPS store in St. Paul, Minnesota, that shows three white officers struggling to arrest the girl as she screams and thrashes on the floor.
Conover said watching the video made her feel “really disgusted.” She said police should have called in a mental health unit or a female officer to de-escalate the arrest.
A female officer “wouldn’t have been as aggressive. She could have voiced her opinion. And my daughter would have responded differently instead of having an officer, you know, stand over her and on the ground,” Conover said.
“And she’s only 13. You know, she’s not 30 years old. She’s not a man. They were aware of her mental illness, so they could have honestly did things way differently,” the mother added.
One of the arresting officers had spotted the girl at a gas station where she had been banned, police said. The officer later found the girl in the UPS store, where her arrest was captured on video by a worker.
Police spokesman Steve Linders declined comment Saturday but said earlier that he did not know if the three officers were aware of the girl’s mental illness. He said the girl was well-known to the department, those officers had engaged with her before and all St. Paul police go through training to work with people in crisis.
Prosecutors have filed a juvenile petition charging the girl with fourth-degree assault in connection with her arrest. St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carter has called for an internal affairs investigation of the arrest.
Conover calls her daughter “a very loving person” who is “creative” and “affectionate.” She says the girl is taking things “day by day.”
“You know, she’s no angel. She has her ups and downs,” Conover said. “But at the same time, she’s my daughter, I love her, and I’m going to get her the support and services she needs.”