Rochester, New York
The death of Daniel Prude in March has reignited protests in Rochester, New York, with the public release of body cam footage and suspension of the the officers involved.
How Daniel Prude suffocated as Rochester police restrained him by Steve Orr, Rochester Democrat and Chronicle
The incident occurred in March — two months before George Floyd’s very similar death in Minneapolis touched off nationwide protests — yet it didn’t become public until now.
The curtain was lifted on the death of 41-year-old Daniel T. Prude at a late-morning news conference Wednesday at which Prude’s family and local activists called his death a murder and demanded that the officers involved be fired and charged in his homicide.
“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 from Free the People Roc and the New York Civil Liberties Union. “These officers killed someone and are still patrolling in our community.”
The case also brought calls from activists for changes to policing, including an end to the practice of having police officers respond to mental health calls. Clashes with police at the Public Safety Building Wednesday afternoon led to the arrests of nine people, including Gantt. All protesters arrested face misdemeanor charges and were issued appearance tickets.
Gantt said what happened to Prude was not an isolated event.
“The Rochester Police Department has shown time and again that they are not trained to deal with mental health crises,” Gantt said. “These officers are trained to kill and not to de-escalate. Daniel’s case is the epitome of what is wrong with this system and today we stand firmly seeking justice for Daniel and his family, and for all the victims who have been murdered and terrorized by the Rochester Police Department.”
Prude’s death on March 30 parallels numerous others locally and nationally in which people who are mentally or emotionally stressed, many of them people of color, have been killed when officers forcefully restrained them.
Rochester police body camera footage of police interaction with Daniel Prude on March 23, 2020. Prude became agitated after being hooded eventually a couple of officers held his face sideways against the street.
Monroe County Medical Examiner Dr. Nadia Granger ruled Prude’s death a homicide caused by “complications of asphyxia in the setting of physical restraint,” according to the autopsy report.
Crowds fill streets as unrest is reported at restaurants in Rochester, NY from the AP by Carolyn Thompson and Michael Hill
Crowds took to the streets Friday as people made calls for racial justice following police detaining Daniel Prude, who suffocated to death.
Prude, 41, who was Black, died when he was taken off life support March 30. That was seven days after officers who encountered him running naked through the street put a hood over his head to stop him from spitting, then held him down for about two minutes until he stopped breathing.
Agitators reportedly damaged restaurants when diners were there Friday night. Hundreds of other people gathered peacefully as they walked through the streets.
Later, people clashed with authorities. WHAM-TV reported that police declared a gathering an unlawful assembly and asked people to leave.
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Daniel Prude. Say his name. Rochester NY. Black lives matter. pic.twitter.com/7f86WxzfmA
— Marne Brady (@MarneBrady) September 5, 2020
— Gino Fanelli (@GinoFanelli) September 5, 2020
7 officers in Rochester, New York, suspended in death of Daniel Prude by By Dennis Romero and David K. Li for NBC News
Seven police officers involved in the response to a call in which a Black man was put in a hood and later died have been suspended, the mayor of Rochester, New York, announced Thursday.
Mayor Lovely Warren said at a news conference that the officers involved in the response to the man, Daniel Prude, were suspended with pay “against the advice of counsel.”
“Mr. Daniel Prude was failed by our police department, our mental health care system, our society, and he was failed by me,” she said. “I must apologize to the Prude family and to all of our community.”
Warren indicated that she might be in for a fight with the local police union over the suspensions.
“I have never shied away from taking action and holding our police, or anyone, who fails in their duties to our community accountable,” she said in a statement. “I understand that the union may sue me for taking these officers off our streets. They should feel free to do so.”
The officers had stopped Prude, 41, who was nude at the time, after 3 a.m. on March 23, according to edited police body camera video obtained by his family and released to the media. Officers cuffed him, placed him on the wet street face down, put a spit hood on him, pushed his head into the asphalt and placed a knee on his back, the video appears to show.
Michael Mazzeo, president of the Rochester Police Locust Club, the union representing city officers, said Friday that his members had been told for months they did nothing wrong in their response to Prude.
“The message that was conveyed from the chief’s officer at that time was that there was no concerns with the actions or our members and that they had followed correct protocols per their training,” Mazzeo told reporters.
“To me, It looks like they were watching the training in front of them and following it step-by-step, what that training says to do,” Mazzeo said of footage that’s been made public.
He also said that one of the officers who has been suspended wasn’t at the scene where Prude was handcuffed and had a spit hood put on him.
A Rochester Police Department spokeswoman on Friday declined comment on Mazzeo’s assertion that the officers had been credited with following proper protocol. She said she did not immediately know if Mazzeo was correct in his belief that one of the suspended officers wasn’t at the scene.
Spectrum Local News has a pretty detailed rundown of Friday nights events, including many videos at the link:
Crowds gathered early in the night, and by 11 p.m. Hundreds of protesters reached the Court Street Bridge where they were met with police in riot gear.
It was a back and forth moment. At one point, police said over a loud speaker “this is now an unlawful protest, please disperse.”
Most of the protesters did disperse and head back towards MLK Junior Park, while some continued to clash with police.
RPD says some members of the crowd began throwing rocks, bottles, and other forms of debris. Police used pepper balls and spray to break up the part of the crowd back towards South Avenue.
This crowd eventually began to break up.
About an hour later at midnight, Rochester police and another large crowd of protesters clashed again at the intersection of Court Street and South Clinton.
Spectrum News crews at this scene saw fireworks being set off in the street.
At least one protester threw a firework at the police barricade in front of them.
Tear gas was deployed by the RPD to attempt to disperse the crowds. Police say that the only use of tear gas during the night.
Additionally, throughout the night Spectrum News crews saw multiple fires being set downtown, ranging from small fires set in garbage cans to a fire in a bus terminal on Court Street.
Rochester police say 11 arrests were made during last night’s riots. The charges range from rioting, unlawful assembly and disorderly conduct.
Of the 11 arrests, seven were issued appearance tickets and four were remanded to the Monroe County Jail.
RPD says three officers were injured as a result of the projectiles thrown at them. All three officers required hospitalization and were later released.
However, one protester said Rochester police escalated the situation.
“I was slightly disappointed but I guess not surprised by it,” said Kaylee Leone of Webster regarding the escalation of the protest. “Yeah it’s scar. At least I thought they’d say it a few times, maybe say you have a few minutes or set a specific time on it, but no it was here’s the command 3 seconds and here we go,”
Rochester police also commented on its use of tear gas on the gathering. The department says the gas, along with pepper balls and pepper spray, were used in order “prevent serious physical injury to both officers and spectators.”