Police Knelt On Back, Used Spit Hood Before Daniel Prude Went Unconscious And Later Died, Video Shows

(Screenshot/Associated Press)

Brianna Lyman News and Commentary Writer
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The family of a black man who died after being allegedly suffocated by Rochester, N.Y police officers in March has released video footage showing the disturbing incident.

Daniel Prude arrived from Chicago just hours before the incident, but had been kicked off the train before he made it to Rochester “due to his unruly behavior,” according to the Associated Press.

Police took Prude into custody for a mental health evaluation on March 22 for suicidal thoughts, per the same report. He was only in the hospital for a few hours, per AP. Hours later at 3 a.m. police received another call about Prude from his brother, Joe Prude, that Prude had left the house.

“I placed a phone call for my brother to get help. Not for my brother to get lynched,” Joe Prude said at a news conference, according to the AP. “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?” (RELATED: New Video Shows Moments Leading Up To George Floyd Being Pinned On Ground)

When police found Prude he was allegedly naked. Police say Prude had smashed several storefront windows and allegedly claimed he had the coronavirus, according to a report from NPR. A tow truck driver who had also called 911 said Prude was covered in blood, per the same report.

The newly released footage shows Prude, who had undressed, following police commands to get on the ground and put his hands behind his back. As snow falls, Prude sits naked on the ground handcuffed, shouting at police “Give me your gun, I need it.”

Officers then put a spit hood over Prude, which is meant to prevent officers from coming in contact with someone’s saliva. Prude asks officers to remove the hood from him, video shows.

Officers then can be seen pushing Prude’s head into the ground, with one officer holding his head down saying “calm down” and “stop spitting.” Another officer kneels on Prude’s back, the video shows.

Prude can then be heard muttering “trying to kill me!” and “OK, stop. I need it. I need it,” before he begins to whimper, according to the video.

After approximately two minutes, officers appear to be concerned when Prude is no longer moving, asking Prude “you puking?” when they notice water coming out of Prude’s mouth, according to the AP. One officer notes Prude is cold from being in the street for some time, with another saying “he feels pretty cold.”

Officers remove the hood and handcuffs and medics begin performing CPR before Prude is taken into an ambulance, per the same report. Prude died in the hospital on March 30 from brain damage.

A medical examiner ruled his death was a homicide caused by “complications of asphyxia in the setting of physical restraint,” and notes Prude was intoxicated by PCP, which contributed to his death, AP reported.

The investigation into his death is ongoing and has been in state Attorney General Letitia James’ hands since April. Under New York State Law, deaths of unarmed people in police custody are typically handled by the attorney general’s office and not local officials, according to CNN.

Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed a bill into law in June designating the attorney general as an independent prosecutor. The law technically codifies an executive order made by Cuomo following the 2013 death of Eric Garner, per CNN.

“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,” James said in a statement Wednesday, per CNN.

Protesters are now demanding that the involved officers be fired and brought up on murder charges.

“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,” said Ashley Gantt of Free the People ROC, according to the AP.