The news of Daniel Prude and his tragic death might just be reaching the eyes and ears of most outside of New York, but the family of the man has been engaged in this fight for several months. Prude, under apparent mental distress, was approached by officers in Rochester, N.Y., who placed a white hood over his head where he then later died from suffocation.
Bodycam video of the incident and arrest was released just this past Wednesday by the Free The People Roc Facebook page in its unedited entirety. In the video, which we briefly watched for reporting purposes, Prude is not wearing clothes and is facedown in a street surrounded by several officers. As snow flurries fell, Prude can be heard on the video talking with police officers asking for their gun.
Prude exchanges words and makes some remarks that went ignored by the officers, some of whom were making jokes about Prude’s state of being.
Here is a description from the family’s GoFundMe page posted in support of Prude:
On March 23rd, 2020 the Rochester Police Department (RPD) executed a Black man named Daniel Prude. Mr. Prude was naked, unarmed, and experiencing a mental health crisis. Daniel’s brother Joe had called 911 for help. No one trained to respond to a mental health crisis arrived at the 400 Block of Jefferson Avenue — Rochester police did. Daniel complied with all orders by the police.
While cuffed, naked, and laying on the freezing cold ground, RPD officers mocked Daniel Prude and cracked jokes, and put a bag over his head. RPD officers Mark Vaughn, Troy Talladay, and Fransisco Santiago then proceeded to swarm him. While Taladay forced his knee into Daniel’s back and Santiago held down his legs, Vaughn pushed Daniel’s head into the ground using all of his body weight — essentially doing a triangle pushup on his head. Less than ten minutes after he was cuffed, Daniel Prude breathed his last conscious breath.
With the video going wide, protests kicked off in both Rochester and south in New York City as well, with reports that Black Lives Matter protestors contended with a car driving through a demonstration in Times Square last night.
Local outlet Democrat & Chronicle reports that Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren joined with City Council members in urging that protesters gathered and arrested this past Wednesday in the have their charges dropped by authorities. On Thursday, Mayor Warren announced that seven officers connected to the death have been arrested.
At a press conference, the incident was compared to a “lynching” after the brother explained he was just hoping to get help for his brother during the mental health episode. New York Attorney General Letitia James says her office is launching an investigation into the matter.
Prude, 41, was visiting his brother, Joe, from Chicago when the incident occurred in March 2020. Some have remarked that Prude’s death is eerily similar to the death of George Floyd in Minnesota, which reignited the BLM movement along with the tragic losses of Breonna Taylor, Elijah McClain, and Ahmaud Arbery among others.