Daniel Prude: Death in Rochester, New York, Sparks Outrage

daniel prude

GoFundMe/police body cam Daniel Prude

Daniel Prude is a Chicago man who died after police officers restrained him and put a white spit hood over his head in Rochester, New York.

Prude died in March 2020, but his death is causing protests in September because of the release of a graphic body cam video that sheds new light on his death. It shows police encountering Prude while he is naked in the street. He is seen with a mesh bag over his head in the video. An officer says in the video that Prude told them he had COVID-19, which may explain the use of the spit hood.

You can watch the police body cam video in the death below. Be aware that it’s graphic and disturbing. Free the People Roc obtained the video and posted it on Facebook, writing, “**Warning** This video contains graphic content, including nudity, and the killing of an unarmed black man by members of the Rochester, NY police force.”

The Democrat & Chronicle, a local newspaper, drew comparisons between Prude’s death and that of George Floyd, in Minneapolis. The newspaper reported that Daniel T. Prude’s cause of death was asphyxiation.

The police investigation action report into the death found that the officers’ actions “appear to be appropriate and consistent with training.”

The Attorney General’s office is still investigating the death. The officers are on active duty and did not face discipline, the Democrat & Chronicle reported.

Here’s what you need to know:


1. A Police Body Cam Video Shows Officers’ Actions That Night

Edited body cam footage provided by Prude attorneysWhen Rochester police officers came upon Daniel Prude in the middle of Jefferson Avenue in the early morning hours of March 23, he was naked and in distress. The temperature hovered around freezing. He had allegedly just gone on a destructive tear, according to police reports, smashing out the windows of several storefronts, and ranting…2020-09-02T16:41:12Z

The body cam video was edited and released by the Prude family attorneys.

“Get on the ground man. Put your hands behind your back, behind your back, don’t move.. chill out man, don’t move,” an officer says in the above video. “One male in custody,” an officer says.

Prude is shown face down with his hands cuffed behind his back. “Yes sir,” he says at first, but then he grows increasingly agitated.

“Jesus Christ, I’m going to sue your a**…Let me go man…get the f*** away from me. Give me your gun, I need it man,” are some of the comments he makes to officers. He also makes graphic references to his own genitals.

Prude is surrounded by multiple officers. He then sits up, lies on his side, and an officer puts a mesh hood on his face.

“Jesus Christ, I pray,” he says at another point, again using graphic language about his genitals. “Take this off my mother f***ing face.”

“You’re trying to kill me!” Prude says at another point in the video.

An officer tells Prude to “stop spitting,” and you can hear the sound of Prude spitting. Then officers come closer and an officer presses on him. Someone says Prude almost got hit by a car. An officer cuffs him.

You then see a mesh bag over his head, and an officer with his hands pressed on Prude’s head as he appears to be lying face down. This goes on for some time.

Prude gets more agitated. “Relax, dude,” an officer says. “Give me the gun,” Prude says, but his speech is growing quieter. An officer appears to be pressing on his head. Prude then goes quiet.

An officer appears to be pressing his knee into Prude and a second officer also presses on his body during the video. “He feels pretty cold,” an officer says.

“He says he has corona,” says another officer.

Prude has gone silent, and an ambulance arrives. “You good man?” an officer asks. “Oh, he’s puking just straight water; all that water came out of his mouth,” an officer says. “Hey man are you puking?”

Prude is silent. “He’s still moving his arm,” an officer says, grabbing Prude’s arm, but there appears to be no movement. “Roll him over on his side,” an officer says. “He started throwing up now. It looks like he doesn’t even have chest compressions,” an officer says.

They start CPR. Officers go to get hand sanitizer. A female paramedic helps with CPR and mentions excited delirium, saying, “It’s not your guys’ fault. You have to keep yourself safe.”

According to The Appeal, police handcuffed Prude, “mocked him, put a mesh bag over his head, knelt on his back, and pushed his face into the ground until he stopped breathing.” Prude was unarmed. The Democrat & Chronicle described the video this way: “It depicts at least three officers holding Prude prone and forcing his head and chest into the pavement for several minutes until, apparently unnoticed by the officers, he stops breathing.”

The Democrat & Chronicle named officers in the video as Officer Mark Vaughn and Officer Troy Talladay.


2. Prude Was From Chicago; His Brother Initially Called Police for Help & Labels What Happened Next a ‘Lynching’

daniel prude

Police body camA scene from the body cam video.

According to 13WHAM, Prude was from Chicago, Illinois. He was 41 years old.

Prude’s brother, Joe Prude, spoke to The Appeal. He said he called police for help after his brother, in the words of The Appeal, “was acting strangely and had suddenly bolted out the back door. ”

“That was a lynching,” Joe Prude told The Appeal. “That was cold-blooded murder. … My brother was a loving individual. He was a likeable guy and a damn good brother. He made people laugh. He brought joy to people. He didn’t deserve what happened to him.”

The Appeal says Prude was brain dead for a week before dying.

According to the Democrat & Chronicle, Prude’s family told police he might be on PCP (toxicology tests showed that was true); he was in Rochester to say with family after riding an Amtrak to Buffalo, where he was thrown off the train. He then exhibited disturbing behavior including jumping “head-first down the basement stairs,” so Prude’s brother called police and he was taken to the hospital for a mental health evaluation and released, the newspaper reported. The restraint incident started after Prude ran out of the back door at 3 a.m., prompting his brother to call 911 again for help. He may have then broken windows on a business.


3. Protests Have Erupted Into Prude’s Death

Protests have erupted in Rochester, New York, over Prude’s death. According to the Democrat & Chronicle, Prude’s family and activists held a news conference on Sept. 2, calling what happened to Prude murder.

People expressed concern that months had gone by without the public realizing what had happened to Prude.

“What is most disgusting to me is we are learning about it today,” said Danielle Ponder of Rochester to 13WHAM, “but your chief of police knew about it for three months, your mayor knew about it, Mike Mazzeo (Rochester police union president) knew about it, but all three of them have repeatedly said – on your cameras, on your microphones – we don’t have those problems here – knowing that a family was mourning the death of their son, knowing that a family was mourning the death of their brother. They said on national TV, we don’t have those types of problems here. This is insane. This is ridiculous.”

“We are in need of accountability for the wrongful death and murder of Daniel Prude. He was treated inhumanely and without dignity,” said Ashley Gantt, a community organizer, according to the Democrat & Chronicle. “These officers killed someone and are still patrolling in our community.”

The newspaper reported that Mayor Lovely Warren had seen the video “a while ago” and called it disturbing.


4. A GoFundMe Page to Help Prude’s Family Says He Was Experiencing a Mental Health Crisis

A GoFundMe page to help Prude’s family has raised more than $8,000.

It says,

On March 23rd, 2020 the Rochester Police Department (RPD) executed a Black man named Daniel Prude. Mr. Prude was naked, unarmed, and experiencing a mental health crisis. Daniel’s brother Joe had called 911 for help. No one trained to respond to a mental health crisis arrived at the 400 Block of Jefferson Avenue — Rochester police did. Daniel complied with all orders by the police.

While cuffed, naked, and laying on the freezing cold ground, RPD officers mocked Daniel Prude and cracked jokes, and put a bag over his head. RPD officers Mark Vaughn, Troy Talladay, and Fransisco Santiago then proceeded to swarm him. While Taladay forced his knee into Daniel’s back and Santiago held down his legs, Vaughn pushed Daniel’s head into the ground using all of his body weight — essentially doing a triangle pushup on his head. Less than ten minutes after he was cuffed, Daniel Prude breathed his last conscious breath.

Please donate to support Daniel’s family in this time of crisis.


5. Physical Restraint Was Mentioned in the Autopsy Report on Cause of Death

According to the Democrat & Chronicle, the medical examiner ruled Prude’s death a homicide “caused by ‘complications of asphyxia in the setting of physical restraint.'” The autopsy report also said the cause of death was “complications of asphyxia in the setting of physical restraint due to excited delirium due to acute phycyclidine intoxication.”

The newspaper reported that he also had “two different lung diseases, heart inflammation and a brain injury.”

A medical examiner’s homicide label is not the same as a legal determination of criminal homicide by prosecutors. It generally means death at the hands of another. The officers in this case have not been criminally charged, but the New York state Attorney General’s office is still investigating the case.

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