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Daniel Prude: Rochester, New York video of black man who suffocates to death in police custody

Protests have erupted in upstate New York after a newly surfaced video revealed how a 41-year-old handcuffed black man died of asphyxiation in March after a group of police officers put a hood over his head, then pressed his face into the ground until he stopped breathing.  

Daniel Prude, 41, was left brain dead after the incident and later died on March 30 when he was taken off of life support – seven days after the encounter with police in Rochester.

His brother had phoned for assistance because he was suffering a mental health episode. Prude had walked out of his brother’s house at around 3am in frigid temperatures, wearing only long underwear, a tank top and socks. As he made his way through the neighborhood, he started removing his clothes. Police claim he also smashed windows. Several other people encountered him, with at least one calling 911 to report his erratic behavior. 

Prude was then stopped by Officer Mark Vaughn from the Rochester PD. Vaughn, pointing a taser, ordered him to lay on the ground and put his hands behind his back, to which he complied. Officer Vaughn then handcuffed Prude as he lay on his stomach. Prude spat, yelled and told the cops that he had COVID-19. They put a hood over his head then laughed at him while he screamed profanities at them.  

After the hood was placed over his head, Prude became more agitated. He flipped onto his side and yelled ‘give me that gun!’. Then, three of the cops pushed him into the cold ground and held him down for more than three minutes while he screamed. The cops only became worried when they noticed fluid seeping out of his mouth. By then, he was unconscious. 

Prude was taken to the hospital and placed on life support but he died seven days later. The medical examiner ruled his death a homicide, caused by ‘complications of asphyxia in the setting of physical restraint, excited delirium [and] acute phencyclidine [PCP] intoxication.’

While the fatal incident occurred on March 23 – weeks before George Floyd would die in Minnesota police custody in May, sparking nationwide protests – Prude’s death received no public attention. Both the Mayor and the police chief said it was down to the Attorney General – who is investigating Prude’s death – to reveal it.

On Wednesday, Prude’s family held a news conference to reveal disturbing police body camera footage of his final moments, along with written reports they obtained through a public records request.

‘I placed a phone call for my brother to get help. Not for my brother to get lynched,’ Prude´s brother Joe said at a news conference Wednesday.

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While the fatal incident occurred on March 23 – weeks before George Floyd would die in Minnesota police custody in May, sparking nationwide protests – Prude’s death received no public attention

While the fatal incident occurred on March 23 – weeks before George Floyd would die in Minnesota police custody in May, sparking nationwide protests – Prude’s death received no public attention

While the fatal incident occurred on March 23 – weeks before George Floyd would die in Minnesota police custody in May, sparking nationwide protests – Prude’s death received no public attention

Daniel Prude was left brain dead after the incident and later died on March 30 after he was taken off of life support – seven days after the encounter with police in Rochester

Daniel Prude was left brain dead after the incident and later died on March 30 after he was taken off of life support – seven days after the encounter with police in Rochester
Prude, known to his big Chicago-based family by the nickname ‘Rell,’ was a father of five adult children and had been working at a warehouse within the last year, said his aunt Letoria Moore.

Prude, known to his big Chicago-based family by the nickname ‘Rell,’ was a father of five adult children and had been working at a warehouse within the last year, said his aunt Letoria Moore.

Daniel Prude was left brain dead after the incident and later died on March 30 after he was taken off of life support – seven days after the encounter with police in Rochester

‘How did you see him and not directly say, “The man is defenseless, buck naked on the ground. He´s cuffed up already. Come on.” How many more brothers gotta die for society to understand that this needs to stop?’ 

Protesters gathered Wednesday outside Rochester’s Public Safety Building, which also serves as its police headquarters. Demonstrators remained as night fell, demanding for the officers involved to be charged with murder. 

WHEC reported that nine people were arrested during the day, most for criminal trespass or resisting arrest, and one for also inciting a riot. One activist was taken to hospital to be treated for injuries sustained during their arrest.  

It came as; 

  • New York Attorney General Letitia James called his death a ‘tragedy’ and said her office had been investigating it before it became public 
  • The Rochester Police Department and Mayor shrugged responsibility for disclosing the incident publicly, saying it was down to the AG’s office
  • Prude’s family weighed a wrongful death lawsuit against the police department 
  • There were growing calls for the six cops involved – Officer Mark Vaughn, Officer Paul Ricotta, Officer Andrew Specksgoor, Officer Josiah Harris, Officer Troy Talladay and Sgt. Michael Magri – to be fired at the least and face charges at most 
  • The six cops remain on duty  

The bodycam footage shows Prude sitting in the ground in handcuffs. 

 ‘I placed a phone call for my brother to get help. Not for my brother to get lynched,’

He is heard yelling incoherently at the officers, shouting ‘Jesus Christ’ and ‘Give me your gun, I need it’. At one point, he invites officers to ‘come and look at this big d***,’ to which the cops on scene respond with laughter.

Officers stood around Prude in a semicircle, body camera footage shows. 

Prude continued to yell at officers and at one point attempted to get to his feet. Officers were seen pushing him back over and then slamming his head into the ground.

Prude demanded they remove the spit hood, saying, ‘trying to kill me!,’ before making muffled, anguished sounds from under the hood. 

For more than two minutes, officers pinned Prude down on the cold ground. Officer Vaughn used both hands to push the side of Prude’s head into the pavement, in a push-up position with his knees suspended off the ground. 

Another officer used his knee at one point to hold down Prude’s torso, and a third held down his legs.

Prude is heard screaming under the weight of the officers pinning him down, however his words are muffled as his face is pushed hard into the ground. Officers are heard urging him to ‘stop spitting’.

The officers appear to become concerned when they notice water coming out of Prude’s mouth.

Officer Talladay is seen placing a kneww into Prude's back as he lay on the floor

Officer Talladay is seen placing a kneww into Prude's back as he lay on the floor

Officer Talladay is seen placing a kneww into Prude’s back as he lay on the floor

For nearly three minutes, officers pinned Prude down on the cold ground. One officer used both hands to push the side of Prude’s head into the pavement

For nearly three minutes, officers pinned Prude down on the cold ground. One officer used both hands to push the side of Prude’s head into the pavement

For nearly three minutes, officers pinned Prude down on the cold ground. One officer used both hands to push the side of Prude’s head into the pavement

Officer Vaughn used both hands to push the side of Prude’s head into the pavement, similar to a triangle push-up

Officer Vaughn used both hands to push the side of Prude’s head into the pavement, similar to a triangle push-up

Officer Vaughn used both hands to push the side of Prude’s head into the pavement, similar to a triangle push-up 

Prude is heard screaming under the weight of the officers pinning him down, however his words are muffled as his face is pushed hard into the ground. Officers are heard urging him to ‘stop spitting’

Prude is heard screaming under the weight of the officers pinning him down, however his words are muffled as his face is pushed hard into the ground. Officers are heard urging him to ‘stop spitting’

Prude is heard screaming under the weight of the officers pinning him down, however his words are muffled as his face is pushed hard into the ground. Officers are heard urging him to ‘stop spitting’

The 41-year-old then suddenly falls deathly silent and still, having lost consciousness under the restraint

The 41-year-old then suddenly falls deathly silent and still, having lost consciousness under the restraint

The 41-year-old then suddenly falls deathly silent and still, having lost consciousness under the restraint

When EMTs arrive on scene, the officers unhandcuff Prude, roll him on his back and attempt chest compression after realizing he has no pulse

When EMTs arrive on scene, the officers unhandcuff Prude, roll him on his back and attempt chest compression after realizing he has no pulse

When EMTs arrive on scene, the officers unhandcuff Prude, roll him on his back and attempt chest compression after realizing he has no pulse

The 41-year-old then suddenly falls deathly silent and still, having lost consciousness under the restraint.

One officer notes that he’s been out, naked, in the street for some time. Another remarks, ‘He feels pretty cold.’

NY AG LETITIA JAMES IS INVESTIGATING PRUDE’S DEATH 

New York Attorney General Letitia James said on Wednesday that she would investigate Prude’s death.

‘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,’ she said. 

When EMTs arrive on scene, the officers unhandcuff Prude, roll him on his back and attempt chest compression after realizing he has no pulse.

The EMT tells cops not to worry since PCP causes ‘excited delirium’ and says ‘I guarantee you that’s why he coded,’ adding, ‘It’s not your fault guys.’

The medics continue performing CPR on Prude before he’s loaded into an ambulance, some 11 minutes after he first encountered police.

He was taken to the hospital and placed on life support, where he was later pronounced brain dead. He died seven days later on March 30.

Attorney Elliot Shields, who is representing Prude’s family, said he obtained 80 minutes of body camera footage from an open-records request filed with the city of Rochester. Shields said none of the officers, as far as he’s aware, have been disciplined in relation to Prude’s death.

During a news conference Wednesday, Shields said that the Prude family ‘will sue everyone who is responsible for Daniel Prude’s death.’

Prude, of Chicago, had arrived in Rochester via Amtrack train on March 22 to stay with his brother. He was kicked off the train before it got to Rochester, in Depew, ‘due to his unruly behavior,’ according to an internal affairs investigator´s report.

Rochester police officers took Prude into custody for a mental health evaluation around 7pm that day for suicidal thoughts – about eight hours before the encounter that led to his death. 

But his brother said he was only at the hospital for a few hours, according to the reports.

Police responded again after Joe Prude called 911 at about 3am to report that his brother had left his house.

The city halted its investigation into Prude’s death when state Attorney General Letitia James office began its own investigation in April. Under New York law, deaths of unarmed people in police custody are often turned over to the attorney general’s office, rather than handled by local officials. 

Daniel Prude's brother Joe, right, stands with his son, Armin, holding a photograph up of him outside their home on Thursday

Daniel Prude's brother Joe, right, stands with his son, Armin, holding a photograph up of him outside their home on Thursday

Daniel Prude’s brother Joe, right, stands with his son, Armin, holding a photograph up of him outside their home on Thursday

Activists are demanding that officers involved with Prude’s death be prosecuted on murder charges and that they be removed from the department while the investigation proceeds

Activists are demanding that officers involved with Prude’s death be prosecuted on murder charges and that they be removed from the department while the investigation proceeds

Activists are demanding that officers involved with Prude’s death be prosecuted on murder charges and that they be removed from the department while the investigation proceeds

Protesters gathered Wednesday outside Rochester's Public Safety Building, which serves as police headquarters. Demonstrators remained as night fell

Protesters gathered Wednesday outside Rochester's Public Safety Building, which serves as police headquarters. Demonstrators remained as night fell

Protesters gathered Wednesday outside Rochester’s Public Safety Building, which serves as police headquarters. Demonstrators remained as night fell

Demonstrators are demanding for the officers involved to be charged with murder

Demonstrators are demanding for the officers involved to be charged with murder

Demonstrators are demanding for the officers involved to be charged with murder

Lakeisha Harmon, center, speaks to the crowd during a protest, Wednesday, Sept. 2, 2020, in Rochester, NY, where Daniel Prude was restrained by police officers

Lakeisha Harmon, center, speaks to the crowd during a protest, Wednesday, Sept. 2, 2020, in Rochester, NY, where Daniel Prude was restrained by police officers

Lakeisha Harmon, center, speaks to the crowd during a protest, Wednesday, Sept. 2, 2020, in Rochester, NY, where Daniel Prude was restrained by police officers

Prude, known to his big Chicago-based family by the nickname ‘Rell,’ was a father of five adult children and had been working at a warehouse within the last year, said his aunt Letoria Moore.

Prude, known to his big Chicago-based family by the nickname ‘Rell,’ was a father of five adult children and had been working at a warehouse within the last year, said his aunt Letoria Moore.

Prude, known to his big Chicago-based family by the nickname ‘Rell,’ was a father of five adult children and had been working at a warehouse within the last year, said his aunt Letoria Moore.

James said Wednesday that investigation is continuing.

‘I want everyone to understand that at no point in time did we feel that this was something that we wanted not to disclose,’ Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren said at a press briefing. ‘We are precluded from getting involved in it until that agency [the AG´s office] has completed their investigation.’

Activists are demanding that officers involved with Prude’s death be prosecuted on murder charges and that they be removed from the department while the investigation proceeds.

‘The police have shown us over and over again that they are not equipped to handle individuals with mental health concerns. These officers are trained to kill, and not to de-escalate. These officers are trained to ridicule, instead of supporting Mr. Daniel Prude,’ Ashley Gantt of Free the People ROC said at the news conference with Prude’s family.

Protesters gathered Wednesday outside Rochester’s Public Safety Building, which serves as police headquarters. Demonstrators remained as night fell.

Three activists were arrested inside the building on Wednesday afternoon.

One person was reportedly taken to a hospital for treatment of injuries received during the arrest. The extent of their injuries is not currently known.

An activist stops to take a picture of a make-shift memorial for Daniel erected sometime on Wednesday evening

An activist stops to take a picture of a make-shift memorial for Daniel erected sometime on Wednesday evening

An activist stops to take a picture of a make-shift memorial for Daniel erected sometime on Wednesday evening

The city halted its investigation into Prude's death when state Attorney General Letitia James office began its own investigation in April

The city halted its investigation into Prude's death when state Attorney General Letitia James office began its own investigation in April

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

Under New York law, deaths of unarmed people in police custody are often turned over to the attorney general's office, rather than handled by local officials

Under New York law, deaths of unarmed people in police custody are often turned over to the attorney general's office, rather than handled by local officials

Under New York law, deaths of unarmed people in police custody are often turned over to the attorney general’s office, rather than handled by local officials

A makeshift memorial is seen, Wednesday, Sept. 2, 2020, in Rochester, New York

A makeshift memorial is seen, Wednesday, Sept. 2, 2020, in Rochester, New York

A makeshift memorial is seen, Wednesday, Sept. 2, 2020, in Rochester, New York

During a news conference Wednesday, Shields said that the Prude family ‘will sue everyone who is responsible for Daniel Prude's death'

During a news conference Wednesday, Shields said that the Prude family ‘will sue everyone who is responsible for Daniel Prude's death'

During a news conference Wednesday, Shields said that the Prude family ‘will sue everyone who is responsible for Daniel Prude’s death’

They were released on appearance tickets, said Iman Abid, regional director of the NYCLU, who was among those taken into custody.

WHO WERE THE OFFICERS INVOLVED? 

There were six officers of Rochester PD present on the night Daniel Prude died in police custody.

Their names are: 

Officer Mark Vaughn;

Officer Paul Ricotta;

Officer Andrew Specksgoor;

Officer Josiah Harris;

Officer Troy Talladay;

Sgt. Michael Magri.

Demonstrators and police later clashed outside of the building, with officers deploying pepper spray to disperse the crowd. 

Prude, known to his big Chicago-based family by the nickname ‘Rell,’ was a father of five adult children and had been working at a warehouse within the last year, said his aunt Letoria Moore.

‘He was just a bright, loving person, just family-oriented, always there for us when we needed him,’ she said, and ‘never hurt or harmed anybody.’

Prude had been traumatized by the deaths of his mother and a brother in recent years, having lost another brother before that, Moore said. In his last months, he´d been going back and forth between his Chicago home and his brother’s place in Rochester because he wanted to be close with him, she said.

She knew her nephew had some psychological issues. Still, when he called two days before his death, ‘he was the normal Rell that I knew,’ Moore said.

‘I didn’t know what was the situation, why he was going through what he was going through that night, but I know he didn’t deserve to be killed by the police,’ she said.

Black Lives Matter protesters also gathered outside a police precinct in Washington DC after police shot and killed 18-year-old Deon Kay, who is black, on Wednesday afternoon.

The incident happened at around 4pm and comes amid nationwide unrest over police violence.

Washington DC saw violent protests in the weeks following police killing of George Floyd in Minnesota back in May, and the chaos re-erupted last Thursday, the final night of the Republican National convention, when six officers were hospitalized in demonstrations across the city.

The unrest continued into Sunday night, with a group of heavily armored officers seen moving in on a hundred-strong crowd of protesters gathered at Black Lives Matter Plaza shortly before midnight.

Metropolitan Police Department Chief Peter Newsham said of the shooting Wednesday afternoon that uniformed officers approached a vehicle, acting on information that there were weapons in a car in the area.

As they approached the vehicle, Newsham said, two passengers fled on foot.

Kay was shot and taken to a local hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

In a press conference Newsham said: ‘Uniformed police officers had information that there were guys in the neighborhood with guns, specifically. That’s what they were looking for and evidently that’s what they found.’

Newsham said it would be ‘improper’ to speculate on what prompted the officers to open fire, but he said two firearms were recovered from the scene.

‘We believe the suspect had a gun at the time,’ Newsham told reporters during an impromptu news conference. Members of the community on the scene disputed that contention.

The local Black Lives Matter affiliate called for immediate protests Wednesday night outside the MPD’s 7th District headquarters, stating in a tweet, ‘DC police murdered a Black man today.’

WASHINGTON DC: Black Lives Matter protesters also gathered outside a police precinct in Washington DC after police shot and killed 18-year-old Deon Kay, who is black, on Wednesday afternoon

WASHINGTON DC: Black Lives Matter protesters also gathered outside a police precinct in Washington DC after police shot and killed 18-year-old Deon Kay, who is black, on Wednesday afternoon

WASHINGTON DC: Black Lives Matter protesters also gathered outside a police precinct in Washington DC after police shot and killed 18-year-old Deon Kay, who is black, on Wednesday afternoon 

WASHINGTON DC: The incident happened at around 4pm and comes amid nationwide unrest over police violence

WASHINGTON DC: The incident happened at around 4pm and comes amid nationwide unrest over police violence

WASHINGTON DC: The incident happened at around 4pm and comes amid nationwide unrest over police violence

WASHINGTON DC: Protesters face off with MPD officers at the 7th District police station after an officer shot and killed a man in southeast Washington, DC

WASHINGTON DC: Protesters face off with MPD officers at the 7th District police station after an officer shot and killed a man in southeast Washington, DC

WASHINGTON DC: Protesters face off with MPD officers at the 7th District police station after an officer shot and killed a man in southeast Washington, DC 

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