Daniel Prude’s family calls for Rochester officers’ arrest in his death after they knelt on him


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Daniel Prude was having a mental health episode on March 23 when his brother Joe Prude called the Rochester Police Department for help, the family said at a press conference Wednesday. Joe Prude claimed Daniel stopped breathing after police knelt on him while he was handcuffed.

When he was brought to the hospital 15 minutes later, he was brain dead, Joe Prude said.

Organizers from the group Free the People Roc, a Black Lives Matter group, named three officers they say were involved in the incident. CNN is working to confirm their identities and is not naming them at this time.

The bodycam footage

Disturbing bodycam footage of the incident, which was provided to CNN by attorneys for Prude, compiles multiple officers’ body cameras and has been edited together to show different angles of the incident.

For the first few minutes of the approximately 11-minute encounter with police, Prude, who is handcuffed, repeats the phrase “in Jesus Christ I pray, amen.” He also makes various remarks about getting his money to take a plane and asks for the officers’ guns and that they stay away from him.

Video shows Prude naked in the middle of a city street at 3:16 a.m. as the footage begins.

An officer exits his patrol car, approaches Prude while asking him six times to get on the ground as the officer points a Taser at him. Prude complies and is asked to put his hands behind his back, which he quickly does. The officer then cuffs him as Prude says “yes, sir” several times.

Several other officers arrive on scene and one appears to identify Prude by name.

Three minutes after the incident begins, one officer puts a bag over Prude’s head. He rolls around on the ground yelling various things.

Prude appears to try to stand at approximately 3:20 a.m., and three officers move in to restrain him and hold him to the ground. Police say Prude is spitting and appears to have vomited. Three minutes and 10 seconds after the restraint, an officer says “he started throwing up, now it looks like he doesn’t even have chest compressions.”

They call in the EMT to help who instructs an officer to roll Prude over and perform chest compressions, which they do.

Prude appears non-responsive and is loaded into an ambulance at 3:27 a.m., 11 minutes after the first officer arrived on scene.

A makeshift memorial is seen Wednesday in Rochester, New York.

Attorneys considering wrongful death suit

Attorneys for the family say the video shows that officers mocked and teased Daniel, left him on the ground while handcuffed and naked and put a bag over his head.

Elliot Shields, one of the family lawyers, said attorneys are in the preliminary stages of filing a wrongful death suit. Shields said that one of the reasons the family hadn’t spoken publicly about the incident before was that it took time to obtain the body camera footage and there were no other recordings of what happened.

“How many more brothers got to die for society to understand that this needs to stop,” Prude said. “And I can’t even share with y’all the pain that I’m feeling, and my family is going through as well.”

An investigation is currently in the hands of the New York Attorney General’s office, Rochester Mayor Lovely A. Warren and Chief of Police La’Ron D. Singletary said when they addressed reporters later Wednesday and offered condolences to the Prude family.

Singletary told reporters that none of the officers involved in the incident are suspended, pending the outcome of the attorney general’s investigation. The attorney general officially took over the case on April 16, Warren said.

Singletary also said that the morning after Prude’s encounter with police, he opened both a criminal and internal investigation into the incident. Warren said that after Prude died, she was informed by the Rochester legal department that this investigation was within the purview of the attorney general and nothing could be done on a city level until that investigation finished.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed a bill into law in June that designates the attorney general as an independent prosecutor for matters relating to the deaths of unarmed civilians caused by law enforcement. The measure is technically codifying an executive order Cuomo mandated in 2014 in the wake of Eric Garner’s death after he was placed in a chokehold by a police officer.

“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,” New York Attorney General Letitia James said in a statement released Wednesday, in which she acknowledged an active investigation.

While neither the chief nor the mayor would provide specifics of the incident or discuss what can be seen on police body camera footage, Warren acknowledged that as soon as the attorney general’s investigation is over, authorities will be able to give the family the information they deserve.

Warren also said the date of death was March 30, a week after the incident.

Prude declared Wednesday that police had killed a defenseless Black man and called Daniel’s death “cold-blooded murder.”

The attorneys for the Prude family say there are “no questions when everyone sees body cam videos, they are going to see a murder.”

CNN’s Melanie Schuman, Elizabeth Hartfield and Rob Frehse contributed to this report.

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