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City Leaders Scrambling to Get Answers Regarding Daniel Prude’s Death

Protesters gather in front of City Hall September 3, 2020, seeking answers regarding Daniel Prude’s death at the hands of Rochester Police

By Staff

As cries for de-funding the police grows louder, and racial tensions continue to increase around the country, more dead bodies of unarmed black men continue to surface. Unfortunately, Daniel Prude is just another name added to a long list of men dead after an encounter with police officers.

Prude was arrested by Rochester Police on March 23, after his brother called 911 saying he was concerned for Prude’s safety. When Rochester Police arrived, Prude, 41, was naked, in distress and bleeding.

According to police reports Prude had allegedly just gone on a destructive rampage, smashing out the windows of several storefronts and ranting about having the Coronavirus.

The police body-camera footage shows officers cuffing Prude and putting a paper bag over his head. Prude stopped breathing after police knelt on him. When he was brought to the hospital 15 minutes later, he was brain dead, according to reports. He died a week later.

The Rochester community was in an uproar yesterday as information regarding the incident became public for the first time. Some community members are concerned about a “cover-up” since the incident happened back in March.

They are seeking answers from Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren.

Several demonstrations broke out around the city and multiple protesters were arrested by RPD for vandalism and other misconduct.

Rochester City Council sent two letters, one to New York State Attorney General Letitia James and another to Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren

In the letter to Mayor Warren, City Council expressed “sadness and shock” at the images and information that was shared with City Council and the community and requesting that she vacate the charges against those protesters arrested.

“Yesterday was an emotionally charged day, and we feel strongly that the charges filed against the protestors following yesterday’s press conference at the Public Safety Building should be dropped,” the letter said.

“Our citizens are exercising their constitutional right to peacefully protest, and we ask that the Administration and our law enforcement do everything in your power to meet these protests with respect and to de-escalate tension. We do not need any militaristic outfitting and use of pepper balls at this incredibly sensitive time for our community. Peaceful protesting is a critical part of our community grieving process,” the letter stated.

In the letter to Attorney General James, City Council said Prude’s death was a tragedy and should have been avoided and requested that James come to Rochester and address the community and explain the process her office will undertake to investigate the incident.

“Multiple systems in our community failed Daniel Prude and his family. We need for justice to be served, and for you to expend additional resources and staff to expedite the investigation of his death. Our community is demanding that this occur with transparency and urgency, and we support those demands.”

James also issued a statement to media.

“As my office continues our investigation into the death of Daniel Prude, it is important for the Rochester community to know that we are working diligently to ensure a swift but thorough investigation. At this time, we have not asked the city of Rochester nor the Rochester Police Department (RPD) to refrain from launching an internal investigation. In fact, we encourage both Rochester and the RPD to proceed with an internal review simultaneous to our investigation. The Prude family and the greater Rochester community deserve answers, and we will continue to work around the clock to provide them.”

“We are shocked to learn of Mr. Daniel Prude’s death resulting from the mishandling of the Rochester Police Department,” Monroe County Legislator Vince Felder said in a statement. “The response to his calls for help was inhumane and certainly avoidable. This incident highlights the need to better address mental health calls, and to assist families who reach out on behalf of those who need help immediately.”

“We owe it to Mr. Prude, his family and the community to make sure people with a mental health crisis are treated compassionately and are referred to the services they need.”