This story contains disturbing police video. The Daily Dot has chosen to embed the bodycam footage because of the nature of its release at the hands of Prude’s family.
Disturbing, newly released video of a Black man’s death at the hands of police shows bodycam footage from officers who are laughing, putting a hood over the naked man’s head, and pressing his face into the pavement for two minutes.
The Rochester, New York footage from March 23 shows a disoriented Daniel Prude on the ground, unclothed, and unarmed. He lays down flat and throws his own hands behind his back, anticipating handcuffs. An unnamed officer told him not to move. Prude complies, as they cuff him.
For the rest of the video, Prude is mocked and has his head smashed into the ground with a spit hood overhead. Spit hoods do just that: Prevent detainees from spitting on police officers. According to the CBC, they’ve been widely criticized for factoring into the deaths of U.S. prisoners.
Prude, 41, died of suffocation, seven days following his incident with Rochester police, after being removed from life support, his family said. The video and documents were released by his family and local activists on Wednesday.
Prude’s family held a news conference to detail the horrific video footage of the encounter taken from body cameras of the arresting Rochester police officers.
“How did you see him and not directly say, ‘The man is defenseless, buck naked on the ground,'” said his brother, Joe Prude, during the press conference. “He’s cuffed up already. How many more brothers gotta die for society to understand that this needs to stop?”
According to the Appeal, Joe Prude called the police for help, and he began acting strangely and had suddenly bolted out the back door.
“That was a lynching,” Joe Prude said. “That was cold-blooded murder. … 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.”
His death arrived two months before the killing of George Floyd while in police custody in Minneapolis. Along with the killings of Breonna Taylor and Jacob Blake, Floyd’s death set off ongoing protests across the United States.
Letitia James, the New York State attorney general; Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren; and Police Chief La’Ron Singletary said they were investigating the death. The city still employs the officers involved.
“I want everyone to understand and be very clear, at no point in time did we feel this was not something we did not want to disclose,” said Warren during a press conference. “It’s something we want to be forthright, upfront about with our citizens.”
“This is not a cover-up,” said Singletary per WHAM. “Let me be clear when I say that: This is not a cover-up whatsoever.” When asked why the footage was not released before this week, Singletary said the department “didn’t want to do anything to taint any investigation.”
WROC reported that an autopsy report from the Monroe County Medical Examiner’s Office ruled Prude’s death as a homicide.
The autopsy reveals Prude’s cause of death as “complications of asphyxia in the setting of physical restraint.” The report also recorded that Prude also had a small amount of PCP in his system at the time of his death, possibly explaining his irregular behavior.
In a statement from Rochester’s city council, on the death of Daniel Prude, it read, “our system failed Mr. Prude at every turn.”