Daniel Prude: Black man killed in New York by police ‘spit hood’ restraint

Activists have called for officers to be charged 

Gino Spocchia
Thursday 03 September 2020 10:22 BST
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Police bodycam shows death of Daniel Prude
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A black man who died from asphyxiation after an encounter with New York police had his face pressed into the pavement for two minutes, his family have said.

Daniel Prude, who was suffering with his mental health, was pursued by police in Rochester, New York, who then restrained him with a so-called “spit hood”.

Prude’s death, which occurred on 30 March, came after seven days spent on life support.

For the first time on Wednesday, his family held a news conference releasing police body camera video and written reports they obtained through a public records request.

The videos show Prude, who had taken off his clothes, complying when police ask him to get on the ground and put his hands behind his back.

Prude, who is visibly agitated and shouting as he sits on the pavement in handcuffs for a few moments, shouts “Give me your gun, I need it,” to the officers.

They are seen putting a white “spit hood” over his head to protect themselves from the detainee’s saliva, following coronavirus pandemic precautions.

When Prude demands they remove the hood, the officers force the 41-year-old’s head into the pavement, as another officer places a knee on Prude’s back.

“Trying to kill me!” Prude says, before he turns silent.

The video shows the officers then removing the hood as medics perform CPR prior to Prude being loaded into an ambulance.

A medical examiner concluded that Prude’s death was a homicide caused by “complications of asphyxia in the setting of physical restraint.”

The report, released on Wednesday, also listed excited delirium and acute intoxication by phencyclidine, or PCP, as contributing factors.

“The police have shown us over and over again that they are not equipped to handle individuals with mental health concerns,” said Free the People activist Ashley Gantt, who appeared at Wednesday's news conference alongside Prude’s family.

“These officers are trained to kill, and not to deescalate. These officers are trained to ridicule, instead of supporting Mr Daniel Prude,” he added.

Prude, known to his Chicago-based family by the nickname “Rell,” was a father of five adult children and had been working at a warehouse within the last year, said his aunt Letoria Moore.

“He was just a bright, loving person, just family-oriented, always there for us when we needed him,” she said, and “never hurt or harmed anybody.”

Prude had been traumatised by the deaths of his mother and a brother in recent years, having lost another brother before that, Ms Moore said.

In his last months, he’d been going back and forth between his Chicago home and his brother’s address in Rochester because he wanted to be close with him, she said.

“I know he didn’t deserve to be killed by the police,” she added.

The fatal encounter took place two months before the death of another unarmed black man, George Floyd, who was killed in Minneapolis police custody.

His death, which prompted nationwide demonstrations against racism and police brutality, enraged Americans after footage showed officers pinning Floyd to the ground until he could not breathe.

As with the officers in Floyd’s case, activists have now called for the those involved in Prude’s death to face murder charges and suspension from duty.

New York state attorney general Letitia James’ office, which began an investigation into the death in April, said on Wednesday that investigation is continuing.

Additional reporting by Associated Press

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