New York Mayor Lovely Warren on Thursday suspended seven police officers in Rocherster after a video from March was released showing a hood being placed on an African-American man in police custody, The Washington Post reported. Daniel Prude died a week later.
Warren claimed that she was not aware of the circumstances surrounding the death of 41-year-old Prude, who succumbed to his injuries after being taken off life support on March 30. A week before his death, police officers who found Prude running across the street naked, put a hood on him to stop him from spitting and held him down using the knee till he stopped breathing, according to AP.
“Daniel Prude was failed by our police, our mental health system, our society and me,” the mayor said. “And for that, I apologise to the Prude family and all of our community.” She added that police chief La’Ron Singletary told her Prude died of an apparent overdose.
Warren, a Democrat, said she came to know about the incident fully on August 4 after Prude’s family attorney made a open records request. She added that her decision was against the advice of the city attorney and the suspended officers would still be paid because of contract rules.
“Experiencing and ultimately dying from, a drug overdose while in police custody, as I was told by the chief, is entirely different than what I ultimately witnessed on the video,” Warren said in a written statement. “I have addressed with police chief LaRon Singletary how deeply disappointed I am in him personally and professionally for failing to fully and accurately inform me about what occurred to Mr Prude.”
Hours after the announcement, protestors gathered at Rochester’s police headquarters late at night. Officers used chemical spray and irritant to disperse the crowd. However, the crowd used umbrellas as covers and continued the protest.
Police chief Singletary refused to comment on the incident.
Prude’s family on Wednesday released the bodycam footage of the incident obtained through a public records request.
The video and other records show that police were looking for Prude after he ran away from his brother’s house on March 23 following a mental health evaluation at a hospital.
The video showed officers cuffing a naked Prude, who got irritated and was seen shouting and demanding a gun. The police then put a hood on him and presse his face to the pavement for two minutes.
The police are seen releasing him from the hold after two minutes following Prude’s plea. Officers also notice water coming out of Prude’s mouth and call the medics, who start cardiopulmonary resuscitation, or CPR, to revive him.
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.
“No matter how you look at the situation, the man was absolutely in his birthday suit, handcuffed behind his back, on the ground already, in freezing weather,” Daniel Prude’s brother Joe Prude said. “How could you sit here and label that man a threat to you when he’s already cuffed up? How could you throw a bag over his head?”
Video captures fatal shooting under Washington DC’s new bodycam law
District of Columbia Police on Thursday released a bodycam footage showing a police officer fatally shooting an African-American man, leaving the suspect for others to attend and looking for a gun he said was tossed away, Reuters reported. The video was released after new bodycam rules laws came into effect.
Police claim that the victim, 18-year-old Deon Kay, was a known street gang member.
The shooting led to another protest against what activists believe is excessive use of lethal force by police officers against members of the black community.
In a news conference, police chief Peter Newsham said they were looking for Kay. The officer concerned saw Kay brandishing a gun and fired a single shot that killed the victim.
Newsham said police rushed out the footage to counter “a lot of misinformation” that could otherwise “lead to disturbances in our city”.
The United States has been witnessing massive anti-racism protests since May, following the death of George Floyd. On May 25, Floyd, an unarmed and handcuffed African-American man, was killed after a white former police officer Derek Chauvin knelt on his neck for almost nine minutes.