ROCHESTER, N.Y. (Nexstar Media Wire) — Demonstrations broke out in Rochester Wednesday after body camera footage surfaced of a Black man being detained by police. The man died after the moments captured on video, and the New York State Attorney General has now launched an investigation into the death.
Activists say Daniel Prude was lying on his back, naked, handcuffed, and unarmed when police killed him. They say police put a bag over Prude’s head and pushed it into the ground. They say less than 10 minutes later, Prude was dead.
According to the autopsy report, Prude was officially pronounced dead seven days later. The report from the Monroe County Medical Examiner’s Office ruled his death a homicide. The autopsy concluded Prude’s cause of death includes “complications of asphyxia in the setting of physical restraint.”
WROC News obtained body camera footage from the incident Wednesday. A warning to viewers that some may find this video disturbing:
Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren and Police Chief La’Ron Singletary announced Wednesday that the New York State Attorney General’s Office is now investigating the matter.
During the mayor’s and chief’s announcement, several local activists were arrested after attempting to enter the Public Safety Building for the closed press conference.
“On March 23, 2020 the Rochester Police Department executed a Black man named Daniel Prude,” said local activist Stanley Martin on Wednesday. “Mr. Prude was naked, defenseless, unarmed, and experiencing a mental health crisis.”
WFOR reports Prude’s family intends to file a wrongful death lawsuit against the City of Rochester, according to activists and attorneys representing the family.
“I placed the phone call for my brother to get help, not for my brother to get lynched,” said Joe Prude, the brother of Daniel Prude. “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 nephews uncle.”
As a result of an executive order from Gov. Andrew Cuomo in July, New York State Attorney General Letitia James’ office will investigate all cases where law enforcement officers are involved in the deaths of civilians.
“Once Mr. Prude passed away, the Rochester Police Department turned the case over to the Attorney General’s office and since that time we have been waiting for the Attorney General’s office to make a determination on how this case is to proceed,” Mayor Warren said. “The reason why that is the case is because we want to make sure the investigation is fair, unbiased — something people have confidence in — and that the entity that is being investigated is not the entity that’s conducting the investigation.”
The chief echoed statements that his department is cooperating.
“This is not a cover up. There is no cover up whatsoever,” Chief Singletary said. “We’re going to take a look at this criminal investigation. The internal investigation looks at whether the officers violated policy and procedures of the Rochester Police Department. From day one we have been in conversation with the investigating authorities as such. Like the mayor said, we don’t have a problem holding anyone accountable. At this particular point in time, that’s why I’m waiting for the investigation to unfold to determine what the next step will be.”
Attorney General James released a statement Wednesday about the investigation.
“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.”