Thursday 8 December 2022
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Amended Lawsuit Filed Against City, Officers in Death of Daniel Prude

Patti Singer

Protesters took to City Hall in September upon learning nearly six months after the fact that Daniel Prude had died in late March 20202 while in police custody. File photo

The oldest of Daniel Prude’s five surviving children has filed a lawsuit against the city of Rochester and at least six members of the Rochester Police Department.

The lawsuit replaces the one brought a few months ago by the sister of Daniel Prude.

Nathaniel McFarland, in his capacity as the administrator of the estate, brought the civil suit in U.S. District Court. It was filed March 8, and demands a jury trial.

Initially, it was thought that Daniel Prude had no children. When it was learned he did, courts in Chicago and Rochester appointed McFarland as administrator and gave his attorneys 60 days to amend the complaint, according to Stephen Schwarz of Faraci Lange in Rochester.

Schwarz said the complaint is more focused against the people who were on scene and on allegations the attorneys believe are legally viable.

Progress on the suit is likely to be slow. Schwarz said the discovery phase, in which evident is collected, can take about a year.

The amended suit names the city and RPD members Mark Vaughn, Troy Talady, Francisco Santiago, Michael Magri, Andrew Specksgoor, Josiah Harris and other as-yet-unidentified Rochester police officers.

Schwarz said the suit does not include the former chief, La’Ron Singletary.

The suit claims violation of Daniel Prude’s Fourth and 14th Amendments to the U.S. Constitution. It also claims intentional infliction of emotional distress; common law battery; and common law negligence, gross negligence and wrongful death.

The lawsuit seeks compensatory and punitive damages, but it did not provide an amount.

Schwarz said all the children stand to be beneficiaries should damages be awarded.

During an online news conference March 8, attorney Matthew Piers of the firm Hughes Socol Piers Resnick & DYM, Ltd. in Chicago, declined to state a figure but said the amount should be “adequate given the abuse and the misconduct that’s involved.”

He said he wanted the litigation also to “play a positive role … in changing the way the city of Rochester responds both to police misconduct and to people with mental health needs.”

Piers said the city has failed over the years to address excessive force and misconduct on the part of officers.

The lawsuit recounted Daniel Prude’s behavior upon his arrival in Rochester last March to visit his brother, and Joe Prude’s calls to 911 to seek help.

Legal papers described the encounter between Daniel Prude and Rochester police, including the handcuffing, physical restraint, conversation among themselves and arrival of the ambulance and paramedics.

The lawsuit also reviewed what it called the city’s policy and practice of failure to investigate and discipline officers’ use of excessive force and called it “a broken system.”

The suit went on to cite what it said are examples of excessive force and a lack of appropriate training for officers who encounter people in mental distress.