On September 8, 2020, the seventh straight night of the protests following the release of bodycam footage showing the arrest in March before his death, signs reading “Justice For.” Were posted on the outside walls of Rochester, New York City Hall Daniel Prude “attached. Joshua Rashaad McFadden / Getty Images Hide caption
Joshua Rashaad McFadden / Getty Images
Joshua Rashaad McFadden / Getty Images
New York attorney general Letitia James said a grand jury had voted not to bring charges against Rochester police officers in connection with the March 2020 death Daniel Prude, a black man who was in the midst of a mental health free fall during the encounter.
Prude, who died of suffocation after being arrested by police in Rochester, New York. The police body camera footage sparked outrage when it was released in September Days of protests and allegations of cover-up by city officials.
“We concluded that there was enough evidence of Mr. Prude’s death to warrant bringing the case to a grand jury, and we have presented the most comprehensive case,” James said in one Explanation Announcement of the decision – the culmination of a month-long investigation by the AG’s office.
James said that Prude, 41, was in a mental health crisis when the local police were called and that “he needed compassion, care and help from trained professionals”.
“Tragically, he did not receive any of these,” she wrote.
The Monroe County Medical Examiner’s Office ruled that Prude died of “complications of suffocation in cessation of physical restraint due to agitated delirium due to acute phencyclidine poisoning” and listed the cause of death as “murder”.
Several members of the Rochester Police Department command staff have either resigned or been sacked following the incident and subsequent protests, and city officials have promised reforms. Days after the footage was released, James announced that she would do it put together a large jury as part of their office’s investigation into Prude’s death.
Lawyer Matthew Rich, who represents four of the officers involved, told NPR member station WXXI in November that James’ office had been presented to the grand jury since mid-October. He claimed the innocence of all seven officers, including his clients. Of the four, he said, one was not there at all and none had physical contact with Prude.
Details of Prude’s death came to light at the end of a summer marked by protests against racial injustice and police brutality sparked by the high-level police killings of black victims George Floyd and Breonna Taylor.
“Daniel was very charismatic,” his brother Joe Prude told NPR Morning edition in September. “He was a good guy. He was down to earth, a good, generous man at heart.”
Arrested during an apparent mental crisis
Rochester Police arrested Prude in the early hours of March 23rd when responding to an 911 call from his brother who was concerned about Prude’s safety during an apparent mental crisis.
Prude had been released from Rochester Strong memorial hospital earlier that evening after expressing suicidal thoughts and leaving his brother’s house in long johns and a tank top in sub-freezing temperatures. The police found him naked and irrational, allegedly breaking shop windows and ranting about the coronavirus.
Graphic recordings from police body cameras show officers confronting Prude with tasers and ordering him to lie down on the snow-covered street and handcuff his hands behind his back if he holds on to it. An increasingly excited Prude began yelling and spitting at officers and tried to get up, which eventually led the officers to put a “spit hood” over his head. The officers then restrained Prude by holding his head and feet and kneeling on his back.
Prude passed out and stopped breathing, according to police reports. He died a week later after being released from life support.
Joe Prude told NPR that he believed the police were responsible for his brother’s death, citing “excessive violence”.
“I didn’t call her to help my brother die,” he said. “I called her to help my brother.”
Local backlash after the video was released
The von Prude family eventually obtained the body camera footage at the request of public records, and their lawyers released it to the public in early September.
The backlash brought protesters onto the streets calling for justice and transparency. Some urged the city’s mayor and police chief to resign on charges of cover-up – allegations both of which had denied.
A day after the video was posted, Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren said she learned from Police Chief La’Ron Singletary that Prude had overdosed in police custody and didn’t see a video of the arrest herself until August.
She told reporters that Prude had failed “from our police department, our psychiatric system, our society … and me”.
She also said that institutional and structural racism led to Prude’s death, noting that she believed those systems would not have failed him if he had been white.
That was the day Warren ordered it immediate suspension of seven policemen without pay and promised changes the police and the way they respond to mental health emergencies.
She later announced that Singletary and the rest of the department’s command staff would resignThe 20-year-old veteran felt that “his career and integrity [have] was challenged. ”
But she released him just days later, according to a preliminary report from the deputy mayor found serious problems with the reaction of the police and city guides to Prude’s death.
Warren also suspended two city officials, calling for federal investigations and city-wide reforms based on the findings and recommendations of the 1o-page report.
She acknowledged “systematic errors” and admitted that she and other officials should have been more transparent from the start.
Earlier this month Singletary testified before members of Rochester City Council as part of his own investigation into Prude’s death.
In his dismissal, describing his March 23 conversations with Warren, he appeared to contradict her earlier public statements by saying that he “never” characterized Prude’s death as a drug overdose and only notified the mayor because police officers were involved.
He also said that when he and his commanders review the police video in March, they found nothing “outwardly outrageous” in the behavior of the officers involved and found that there were no “strikes or beatings or anything inordinate” at that particular time. ”
Singletary said that while a preliminary review of the incident was underway, no one on division management deemed it necessary to remove these officers from patrol duty.
The Rochester Police Department was checked again in recent weeksWhen a video with a body camera surfaced showing officers handcuffing and handcuffing a nine-year-old girl while responding to a call about a family problem. The police officers have been suspended pending an internal investigation.
NPR reported that while Rochester recently had a “People in crisis“Program that aims to get mental health professionals to respond to mental health calls. The new program was not triggered in this case because the call came as a family emergency rather than a mental health emergency.