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
A 41-year-old handcuffed black man who had run naked through the streets of a western New York city died of asphyxiation after a group of laughing police officers put a hood over his head, then pressed his face into the pavement until he stopped breathing.
Daniel Prude 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.
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.
However, that changed on Wednesday when his family held a news conference to reveal disturbing police body camera footage of Prude’s 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 Prude, said at a news conference Wednesday. ‘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.
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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
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
The deadly encounter began at 3:15am on March 23, when Joe Prude dialled 911 to summon assistance for his brother, who was suffering an acute mental health episode on the 400 Block of Jefferson Avenue.
Prude had left his brothers home moments earlier wearing only long underwear, a tank top and socks. He then began making his way down West Main Street and removing the rest of his clothes.
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.
Police said they believed Prude had been smashing windows down West Main as he walked, before officers encountered him. A number of bystanders cross paths with him before officers arrived, with at least one dialing 911 to report his erratic behaviour.
Prude was then stopped by an Officer Mark Vaughn from the Rochester PD at 3:16pm. 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 then begins to yell and spit as he lies completely naked on the snow covered ground.
Around three and a half minutes into the body camera footage, one of the officers places a mesh hood over his head, after he attempted to spit at officers, allegedly telling him he had COVID-19. New York, once the US epicentre of the virus, was then in the early stages of the pandemic.
A delirious Prude is then 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 demanded they remove the spit hood, saying, ‘trying to kill me!,’ before making muffled, anguished sounds from under the hood.
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.
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, similar to a triangle push-up. 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 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’