Daniel Prude: Seven police officers suspended over death of black man in custody

Mr Prude, 41, died of asphyxia days after he was detained by police officers in Rochester 

Danielle Zoellner
New York
Friday 04 September 2020 00:19
Police bodycam shows death of Daniel Prude
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Seven Rochester police officers have been suspended by the city mayor after bodycam footage showed a hood being placed over a black man who later died.

Daniel Prude, 41, died of asphyxia days after he was detained by police officers in Rochester, New York.

"I am suspending the officers in question today against counsel's advice, and I urge the attorney general to complete her investigation," Mayor Lovely Warren said during a Thursday news conference. "I understand that the union may sue the city for this. They shall feel free to do so – I have been sued before."

The suspension comes one day after Mr Prude's family attorney released footage showing police officers placing a hood, known as a "spit sock" to protect cops from bodily fluids, over the man's head during a March incident.

Officers then held Mr Prude down on the ground in a prone position until he stopped breathing.

"You're trying to kill me," the man said prior to losing consciousness.

The incident first started after Mr Prude's brother Joe called Rochester Police Department on 23 March because his brother was having a mental health episode. Mr Prude, who was naked in the video, was handcuffed by police before he was placed in the middle of a street with the cover over his head.

EMTs were called to the scene and performed chest compressions, according to footage. Mr Prude was revived and taken to the hospital, where he was pronounced brain dead. He died seven days later after never regaining consciousness.

His death was ruled a homicide by the Monroe County medical examiner, stating it was caused by "complications of asphyxia in the setting of physical restraint."

The report also showed that Mr Prude had a small amount of PCP in his system at the time of his death, which could explain his erratic behaviour.

"Mr Daniel Prude was failed by our police department, our mental health care system, our society, and he was failed by me," Ms Warren told reporters. "Daniel Prude's death has proven yet again that many of the challenges that we faced in the past are the same challenges that we face today."

Ms Warren added she was only made aware of the bodycam footage of the March incident on 4 August because of a Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) request by Mr Prude's family.

"What I saw in that video was a man who needed help, a man who needed compassion, and a man who needed humanity, a man who we should have respected, and a man who was in crisis – our response to him was wrong," she said. "I failed to serve our community to fight injustice, to stand up to those in need, and ensure everyone has a fighting chance at life."

Ms Warren also reprimanded the Rochester Police Department Chief La'Ron Singletary, as she said he told her Mr Prude died due to the drugs in his system.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has now called for answers following the release of the bodycam footage.

The seven officers involved were suspended with pay as the city investigates Mr Prude's death.

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