More than two months before the death of George Floyd at the hands of police ignited protests across the nation, another Black man met a similar fate in Rochester, New York. Daniel Prude, 41, died March 30, a week after the police incident, after life support was removed. It was not until his family obtained the policy body camera footage in early September that his tragedy went viral.
The autopsy report by the Monroe County Medical Examiner states the death is a homicide, with Prude dying from “complications of asphyxia in the setting of physical restraint.” The report notes that PCP and “excited delirium” contributed to the death.
Prude’s death also raises questions about how police handle those under the influence of drugs or obvious mental illness.
Held Down for Two Minutes
One thing is certain –Prude had no weapon on him, and police knew it. That is because they were responding to a call of a naked man running outside in the wee hours of the morning, shouting he had the coronavirus.
Prude had arrived in the city the day before from his home in Chicago. His brother Joe picked him up at a Buffalo homeless shelter. Prude was kicked off the Chicago train there due to erratic behavior.
It was snowing at 3 a.m. on March 23. It was Joe who made the call to the police, knowing his brother was suffering a mental breakdown. When the police arrived, Prude was quickly restrained and complied with the officers.
While sitting down, he starts swearing and spitting at the officers. He asks for a gun and money. After he tells an officer he has COVID-19, a spit hood, designed to protect law enforcement from saliva, is placed on his head. An officer then places both hands on his Prude’s head, telling him to stop spitting. He holds Prude’s head down for about two minutes.
His Last Words
In the video, Prude, his head covered with the spit hood, utters his last words before going limp. “You’re trying to kill me,” he cried. After he stops moving, one officer says Prude’s body is going cold. Emergency services arrive and take Prude to a hospital, where he dies seven days later.
7 Officers Suspended
Seven officers involved in the episode were suspended immediately after the video went public. On September 3, Mayor Lovely A. Warren said Prude was “failed by our police, our mental health system, our society and me.”
However, the mayor criticized the police chief, saying she was never told about the circumstances of Prude’s death. Warren said she was simply informed that he died of a drug overdose, adding she was “deeply disappointed” in Police Chief LaRon Singletary.
What Took So Long?
Prude’s family announced a legal challenge against Rochester, alleging a possible coverup of his death. His children said it took them months to obtain information about their father’s demise. His daughter Tashyra noted that given the attention paid to the George Floyd case, it was “shocking and surprising” that the family had to wait so long to discover how their loved one died. The body cam video was released to them via a public records request.
If you have been the victim of police brutality, contact us today. Finding an attorney who can fight for your civil rights can not only help you get compensation, but also benefit your entire community. To learn more Connect Online or call us at 866.836.4684.