State Watch

Video shows police put hood over Black man, pressed him to pavement before asphyxiation death

A Black man died of asphyxiation in March after Rochester, N.Y., police placed a hood over his head and pressed his face into the pavement for two minutes, according to video and records his family released Wednesday.

Police detained Daniel Prude in mid-March after he ran naked through the streets. He died a week later, on March 30, after being taken off life support, The Associated Press reported. The incident occurred months before widespread protests against racism and police brutality began and received public attention only after his family held a news conference Wednesday.

“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?” Prude’s brother Joe Prude said Wednesday.

In the body camera footage, Prude gets on the ground and places his hands behind his back when officers tell him to do so but begins writhing in handcuffs. The officers then place a “spit hood,” intended to prevent them from coming in contact with a suspect’s saliva, on his head. Prude demands they remove the hood. The officers then slam his head into the pavement while one holds his head against the street with both hands. After he stops moving, one officer says, “He feels pretty cold.”

The video also shows medics performing CPR on Prude before he is loaded onto an ambulance. A medical examiner later ruled Prude’s death a homicide caused by “complications of asphyxia in the setting of physical restraint.” The report also lists PCP intoxication and excited delirium, a controversial condition not recognized by the World Health Organization, American Psychiatric Association or American Medical Association.

The office of New York Attorney General (AG) Letitia James (D) began a probe into Prude’s death in April. State law assigns jurisdiction over unarmed deaths in police custody to the attorney general’s office. One of the officers has claimed they hooded Prude because he had repeatedly spat in their direction and they were concerned about the coronavirus.

“I want everyone to understand that at no point in time did we feel that this was something that we wanted not to disclose,” Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren (D) said at press briefing. “We are precluded from getting involved in it until that agency [the AG’s office] has completed their investigation.”

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