Video in Black man’s suffocation shows cops put hood on him

A Black man who had run naked through the streets of a western New York city died of asphyxiation after a group of police officers put a hood over his head, then pressed his face into the pavement for two minutes, according to video and records released Wednesday by the man’s family.

Posted: Sep 3, 2020 12:24 PM
Updated: Sep 3, 2020 5:24 PM

A Black man who had run naked through the streets of a western New York city died of asphyxiation after a group of police officers put a hood over his head, then pressed his face into the pavement for two minutes, according to video and records released Wednesday by the man’s family.

Daniel Prude died March 30 after he was taken off life support, seven days after the encounter with police in Rochester. His death received no public attention until Wednesday, when his family held a news conference and released police body camera video and 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. “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?”

The videos show Prude, who had taken off his clothes, complying when police ask him to get on the ground and put his hands behind his back. Prude is agitated and shouting as he sits on the pavement in handcuffs for a few moments as a light snow falls. “Give me your gun, I need it,” he shouts.

Then, they put a white “spit hood” over his head, a device intended to protect officers from a detainee’s saliva. At the time, New York was in the early days of the coronavirus pandemic.

Prude demands they remove it.

Then the officers slam Prude’s head into the street. One officer, who is white, holds his head down against the pavement with both hands, saying “calm down” and “stop spitting.” Another officer places a knee on his back.

“Trying to kill me!” Prude says, his voice becoming muffled and anguished under the hood.

“OK, stop. I need it. I need it,” the prone man begs before his shouts turn to whimpers and grunts.

The officers appear to become concerned after he stops moving, falls silent and they notice water coming out of Prude’s mouth.

“My man. You puking?” one says.

One officer notes that he’s been out, naked, in the street for some time. Another remarks, “He feels pretty cold.”

His head had been held down by an officer for just over two minutes, the video shows.

The officers then remove the hood and his handcuffs and medics can then be seen performing CPR before he’s loaded into an ambulance.

Spit hoods have been scrutinized as a factor in the deaths of several prisoners in the U.S. and other countries in recent years.

A medical examiner concluded that Prude’s death was a homicide caused by “complications of asphyxia in the setting of physical restraint.” The report lists excited delirium and acute intoxication by phencyclidine, or PCP, as contributing factors.

Prude was from Chicago and had just arrived in Rochester for a visit with his brother. He was kicked off the train before it got to Rochester, in Depew, “due to his unruly behavior,” according to an internal affairs investigator’s report.

Rochester police officers took Prude into custody for a mental health evaluation around 7 p.m. on March 22 for suicidal thoughts -- about eight hours before the encounter that led to his death. But his brother said he was only at the hospital for a few hours, according to the reports.

Police responded again after Joe Prude called 911 at about 3 a.m. to report that his brother had left his house.

The city halted its investigation into Prude’s death when state Attorney General Letitia James’ office began its own investigation in April. Under New York law, deaths of unarmed people in police custody are often turned over to the attorney general’s office, rather than handled by local officials.

James said Wednesday that investigation is continuing.

“I want everyone to understand that at no point in time did we feel that this was something that we wanted not to disclose,” Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren said at a press briefing. “We are precluded from getting involved in it until that agency has completed their investigation.”

One officer wrote that they put the hood on Prude because he was spitting continuously in the direction of officers and they were concerned about coronavirus.

Activists demanded that officers involved be prosecuted on murder charges and that they be removed from the department while the investigation proceeds.

“The police have shown us over and over again that they are not equipped to handle individuals with mental health concerns. These officers are trained to kill, and not to deescalate. These officers are trained to ridicule, instead of supporting Mr. Daniel Prude,” Ashley Gantt of Free the People ROC said at the news conference with Prude’s family.

Calls to the union representing Rochester police officers, and to the organization’s attorney, rang unanswered Wednesday.

Protesters gathered Wednesday outside Rochester’s Public Safety Building, which serves as police headquarters. Free the People ROC said several of its organizers were briefly taken into custody after they entered the building while Warren was speaking to the media.

They were released on appearance tickets, said Iman Abid, regional director of the NYCLU, who was among those taken into custody.

Demonstrators later gathered at the spot where Prude died, chanting, dancing and praying. They stayed late into the night.

Prude, known to his big Chicago-based family by the nickname “Rell,” was a father of five adult children and had been working at a warehouse within the last year, said his aunt Letoria Moore.

“He was just a bright, loving person, just family-oriented, always there for us when we needed him,” she said, and “never hurt or harmed anybody.”

Prude had been traumatized by the deaths of his mother and a brother in recent years, having lost another brother before that, Moore said. In his last months, he’d been going back and forth between his Chicago home and his brother’s place in Rochester because he wanted to be close with him, she said.

She knew her nephew had some psychological issues. Still, when he called two days before his death, “he was the normal Rell that I knew,” Moore said.

“I didn’t know what was the situation, why he was going through what he was going through that night, but I know he didn’t deserve to be killed by the police,” she said.

The fatal encounter happened two months before the death of George Floyd in Minnesota prompted nationwide demonstrations. Floyd died when an officer put his knee on his neck for several minutes during an arrest.

___

Hill reported from Albany. Associated Press writers Mary Esch, Michael R. Sisak, Jennifer Peltz and Dave Collins contributed to this report.

Terre Haute
Cloudy
59° wxIcon
Hi: 75° Lo: 53°
Feels Like: 59°
Robinson
Cloudy
68° wxIcon
Hi: 77° Lo: 54°
Feels Like: 68°
Indianapolis
Cloudy
55° wxIcon
Hi: 68° Lo: 52°
Feels Like: 55°
Rockville
Cloudy
55° wxIcon
Hi: 70° Lo: 52°
Feels Like: 55°
Casey
Cloudy
56° wxIcon
Hi: 75° Lo: 53°
Feels Like: 56°
Brazil
Cloudy
59° wxIcon
Hi: 73° Lo: 52°
Feels Like: 59°
Marshall
Cloudy
59° wxIcon
Hi: 75° Lo: 53°
Feels Like: 59°
Morning storms, then warm
WTHI Planner
WTHI Temps
WTHI Radar

Latest Video

Image

Sunday: Morning rain, then warm and breezy. High 73°

Image

haunted halls YMCA

Image

Stephanie's Kitchen

Image

Saturday Night: Cloudy, rain showers developing. Low: 50°

Image

ISU Football Victorious on Homecoming

Image

ISU Homecoming Parade

Image

Loogootee Volleyball Falls in the Regional Semi-Finals to Trinity Lutheran

Image

Dedication of Stephanie's Kitchen

Image

Residents cleanup the City of Clinton

Image

Linton Volleyball Advances to Regional Finals, but Comes Up Just Short

WTHI Events

 

Illinois Coronavirus Cases

(Widget updates once daily at 7 p.m. CT)

Cases: 1680908

Reported Deaths: 28023
CountyCasesDeaths
Cook63626111214
DuPage1086211379
Will915681128
Lake802871090
Kane68604874
Winnebago41222561
Madison40178598
St. Clair36326599
McHenry34856331
Champaign27087197
Peoria26991368
Sangamon25818287
McLean23073220
Tazewell20689331
Rock Island18919362
Kankakee17959249
Kendall16268114
Macon15344252
LaSalle15078287
Vermilion14453201
Adams13188152
DeKalb12201134
Williamson12091175
Whiteside8328183
Jackson810494
Boone796583
Coles7918125
Ogle759290
Grundy741386
Franklin7339115
Knox7321169
Clinton7136102
Macoupin6988106
Marion6935144
Henry666177
Effingham6639100
Jefferson6573143
Livingston599498
Stephenson587893
Woodford578492
Randolph5563100
Christian536682
Fulton527977
Monroe5258103
Morgan5088100
Logan495675
Montgomery492882
Lee479760
Bureau444291
Saline436169
Perry433975
Fayette432464
Iroquois422577
McDonough374861
Shelby349848
Jersey336953
Lawrence335533
Crawford333730
Douglas328437
Union307748
Wayne304863
White280833
Richland280157
Hancock274435
Clark266940
Cass266531
Pike265658
Edgar260649
Clay259854
Bond257525
Ford246059
Warren244866
Carroll237138
Moultrie236333
Johnson229732
Wabash217319
Jo Daviess216629
Massac216551
Mason214452
Washington212928
De Witt206530
Greene205640
Mercer205036
Piatt202814
Cumberland190126
Menard172513
Jasper161621
Marshall141721
Hamilton134222
Schuyler108810
Brown106610
Pulaski104612
Edwards104118
Stark81828
Gallatin7939
Alexander73212
Scott7126
Henderson70914
Calhoun6932
Hardin60916
Putnam5674
Pope5566
Unassigned1342433
Out of IL140

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

(Widget updates once daily at 8 p.m. ET)

Cases: 1007681

Reported Deaths: 16470
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion1355212121
Lake664101166
Allen57993801
Hamilton46350465
St. Joseph44397615
Elkhart35949510
Vanderburgh32251480
Tippecanoe27933260
Johnson25107445
Hendricks23897359
Porter22929365
Madison18748409
Clark18557252
Vigo17479303
Monroe15263200
LaPorte15173250
Delaware15073263
Howard14748290
Kosciusko12348148
Hancock11728176
Bartholomew11639180
Warrick11292189
Floyd11108215
Wayne10986253
Grant10082220
Morgan9472176
Boone8926115
Dubois8271131
Henry8229152
Dearborn822393
Noble8031106
Marshall7939135
Cass7546121
Lawrence7457171
Shelby7189119
Jackson698289
Gibson6597115
Harrison649192
Knox6421106
Huntington6395100
DeKalb632399
Montgomery6264111
Miami593398
Putnam581278
Clinton576171
Whitley565755
Steuben562576
Wabash5332104
Jasper532079
Jefferson511297
Ripley500586
Adams482576
Daviess4677114
Scott438974
Greene425196
Wells424888
Clay423360
White418764
Decatur4169102
Fayette406587
Jennings387361
Posey376644
Washington359151
LaGrange359078
Randolph3452100
Spencer340243
Fountain335760
Sullivan329452
Starke317171
Owen314771
Fulton312667
Orange293664
Jay284645
Franklin265643
Perry265452
Rush262432
Carroll261934
Vermillion258654
Parke231426
Pike229243
Tipton228159
Blackford193142
Pulaski183757
Crawford159823
Newton158348
Benton150617
Brown146747
Martin138719
Switzerland135011
Warren121116
Union107016
Ohio84613
Unassigned0540