Why does this keep happening? We have seen police detain white suspects without incident. Why can’t this simple task be displayed to people of color? Why?
A Black man died of asphyxiation after Rochester police officers trying to take him into protective custody pinned him to the ground while restraining him.
The incident occurred in March, two months before George Floyd’s very similar death in Minneapolis touched off nationwide protests, yet it didn’t become public until now.
The curtain was lifted on the death of 41-year-old man named Daniel T. Prude at a late-morning news conference today at which Prude’s family and local activists called for the officers involved to be fired and charged in his homicide.
“We are in need of accountability for the wrongful death and murder of Daniel Prude. He was treated inhumanely and without dignity,” said Ashley Gantt, a community organizer from Free the People Roc. “These officers killed someone and are still patrolling in our community.”
The case also brought calls from Black Lives Matter activists for changes to policing, including an end to the practice of having police officers respond to mental health calls.
The death of 41-year-old Daniel T. Prude on March 30 parallels numerous others locally and nationally in which mentally or emotionally stressed people, many of them people of color, have succumbed when officers forcefully restrained them.
Prude’s death was ruled a homicide caused by “complications of asphyxia in the setting of physical restraint” by Monroe County Medical Examiner Dr. Nadia Granger, according to the autopsy report.
The New York state Attorney General’s office has been investigating the officers’ conduct in the Prude case since April and has the ability to seek criminal charges.
Prude was suffering from acute mental-health problems when Rochester officers detained him in the early morning hours of Monday, March 23, as he walked naked and bleeding down Jefferson Avenue in the southwestern part of the city.
His family told police they suspected he was under the influence of the powerful hallucinogen phencyclidine, or PCP.
A resident of Chicago, Prude had arrived in Rochester the day before to stay with his brother, Joe Prude, in Joe’s home on Rochester’s west side.
Prude rode Amtrak to Buffalo but was thrown off the train there, his brother later told police. After being driven to Rochester, he began to act out. After he jumped head-first down the basement stairs, Joe Prude said he called police for help. Prude was taken to Strong Memorial Hospital for a mental-health evaluation and released the evening of March 22, according to the police investigation narrative.