Protests in Rochester after bodycam video surfaces in death of Daniel Prude

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NewsNation Now just obtained the full, raw body camera video in the Daniel Prude case Thursday. The video, which is about 90 minutes long, contains graphic language and images. Viewer discretion is advised.

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (NewsNation Now) — Bodycam video surfaced Wednesday of an encounter between a Black man and officers in Rochester prompting protests and demands for charges nearly five months after his death.

Daniel Prude, 41, died March 30 after he was taken off life support, seven days after Rochester police took him into custody. Prude’s family said he was suffering a mental health crisis, but on the bodycam video, his brother can be heard telling the responding officer that Prude is high on PCP.

The city halted its investigation into Prude’s death when New York Attorney General Letitia James’ office began its own investigation in April.

Activists gathered outside the Public Safety Building in Rochester Wednesday to call for the immediate firing and prosecution of the officers involved. They have not been placed on administrative leave.

In part of the video, Prude is on the ground, naked and speaking incoherently. At one point, police place a mesh hood over his head, which is standard procedure when a subject is spitting. Prude appears agitated and to be spitting. Prude demands they remove the hood.

Later in the footage, Prude argues with the officers and struggles. They force him to the ground and hold him down. Eleven minutes after the first officer arrives, they place him in an ambulance. Prude died in the hospital seven days later.

The autopsy report from the Monroe County Medical Examiner’s Office ruled the death of Prude as a homicide. It says the cause of death includes “complications of asphyxia in the setting of physical restraint due to excited delirium due to acute phencyclidine intoxication.” The report also showed that Prude had a small amount of PCP in his system at the time of his death.

Prude’s family intends to file a wrongful death lawsuit against the City of Rochester.

“I placed the phone call for my brother to get help, not for my brother to get lynched,” Joe Prude, Daniel’s brother, said today. “When I say get lynched, that was full fledged murder, cold-blooded — nothing other than cold-blooded murder. The man is defenseless, naked on the ground, cuffed up already. I mean come on, how many brothers got to die for society to understand that this needs to stop? You killed a defenseless Black man, a father’s son, a brother’s brother, a nephew’s uncle.”

Rochester Police Chief La’Ron Singletary said Attorney General James’ office began investigating the incident after his department ordered an internal investigation.

“The rhetoric that this is a cover-up. It’s not. From day one, we have been in constant conversation with the investigating authorities,” Singletary said.

“Rochester Police Department was called and that response led to his murder,” said activist Ashley Gantt, who is also an organizer for NYCLU. “The police have shown us time and time again that they cannot address mental health crises. Today we stand firmly seeking justice for Daniel and his family, and all the victims who have been murdered and terrorized by the Rochester Police Department.”

Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren also spoke at the Wednesday news conference.

“I know on March 23 they [Prude’s family] did everything possible to make sure that their loved one was taken care of,” she said. “They took him to the hospital, they tried, they called and they sought the help that they needed. Unfortunately, something tragic ended up happening, and losing a loved one is never easy for anyone. On behalf of the citizens of Rochester I do extend my deepest condolences.”

“On the afternoon of April 16, 2020, the cause of death of Daniel Prude was sent to the Monroe County District Attorney’s Office. Upon reviewing the cause of death of Mr. Prude, Monroe County District Attorney Sandra Doorley made the initial notification to Jennifer Sommers of the State of New York Office of the Attorney General for referral pursuant to Executive Order No. 147. The official letter of jurisdiction was sent to the Monroe County District Attorney’s Office from Jennifer Sommers on April 21, 2020. The entire Monroe County District Attorney’s Office offers their deepest condolences to the family of Daniel Prude.”

statement from Monroe County District Attorney

“The death of Daniel Prude was a tragedy, and I extend my deepest condolences to his family. I share the community’s concerns about ensuring a fair and independent investigation into his death and support their right to protest. Pursuant to Executive Order 147, the Special Investigations and Prosecutions Unit of my office is already actively investigating this incident. As with every investigation, we will follow the facts of this case and ensure a complete and thorough examination of all relevant parties. We will work tirelessly to provide the transparency and accountability that all our communities deserve.”

statement from New York State Attorney General Letitia James:

MORE | NY AG investigating Black man’s death after altercation with Rochester police officers

NewsNation affiliate WROC and Associated Press contributed to this report.

Editor’s note: Thursday, the Rochester mayor announced seven officers have been suspended with pay in connection to the death of Daniel Prude

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