About two months before a Minneapolis cop kneeled on George Floyd's neck for more than eight minutes in a deadly detainment, another Black man was killed in similar fashion on March 23 in Rochester, New York. That man's name, Daniel Prude, and officer-worn body-camera video of his violent detainment were released Wednesday by the racial justice organization Free the People Roc.
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Prude was naked, unarmed, and having a “mental health crisis” when his brother Joe Prude called police for help, and multiple Rochester police officers responded, Free the People Roc reported in a Facebook post. “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,” the organization said. “RPD officers Mark Vaughn, Troy Talladay, and Francisco Santiago then proceeded to swarm him. While Talladay 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.”
The police department, which reviewed the body-camera footage and surveillance footage of the incident, stood by the officers’ actions in an investigative action report Free the People Roc obtained. "Based upon the investigation, the officers' actions and conduct displayed when dealing with Prude appear to be appropriate and consistent with their training," officers said in the report.
(Warning: This video contains violence, police brutality, murder, nudity, and abuse of the mentally ill.)
Joe Prude, the man who called police when his brother suddenly ran out of a back door, told The Appeal Daniel Prude was visiting from Chicago when he started to exhibit signs that he was not well, so Joe Prude took his brother to the hospital, where he was released within hours. When Joe Prude called police, he asked them not to kill the man who was only a danger to himself, The Appeal reported. Officers arrived to find Daniel Prude bleeding and naked at about 3 AM. Vaughn pulled out his Taser, told Daniel Prude to get on the ground and handcuffed him. "That was easy and fast," Vaughn said. Video of the detainment shows at least five cops surrounding Prude as he laid naked on the ground while it snowed. “Sir, you don’t got AIDS do you?” Vaughn asked Prude at one point.
Elliot Dolby-Shields, the Prude family’s attorney, told The Appeal: “He complied with all of their demands, and then they treated him like a piece of garbage with not even one speck of basic humanity. No, ‘Hey are you alright? Hey, can we get you a blanket?’ … It’s freezing out and he’s naked. They don’t offer him anything.”
Joe Prude called the detainment a “lynching” in his interview with The Appeal. “That was cold-blooded murder,” he said. “My brother was a loving individual. He was a likable guy and a damn good brother. He made people laugh. He brought joy to people. He didn’t deserve what happened to him.”
Free the People Roc is calling for all officers involved in the incident, those complacent in it, and those involved in the “cover up” to be fired. “Stop funding those who terrorize, brutalize, and dehumanize the most vulnerable residents of our city,” the organization said. “Defund and disband the Rochester Police Department. Move swiftly and decisively to implement real solutions to the multiple crises facing Rochester.”
New York State Attorney General Letitia James is investigating Daniel Prude’s death and will determine if charges are appropriate, according to an executive order The Appeal obtained.
Mayor Lovely Warren offered the family condolences and explained the delay in a decision on charges during a press conference with Police Chief La’Ron Singletary Wednesday. “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,” 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.
“Unfortunately it has taken some time and I sympathize with the family because I too, when I saw the video, was very disturbed.”