State Watch

NY officer tells protester they’re being arrested for ‘being an idiot’

WXXI News

The Rochester Police Department arrested nine people Wednesday at the city’s Public Safety Building after demonstrators entered the office to protest the death of Daniel Prude, a Black man who died of asphyxiation in March following an encounter with police. 

Video from WXXI News, a local news source in Rochester, N.Y., showed officers detaining a handful of protesters who had made their way into the building in an attempt to witness a news conference with Mayor Lovely Warren (D). One of the activists, identified by WXXI News as Stanley Martin, was seen in the video being chased by an officer before being apprehended. 

The officer repeatedly asked Martin if she wanted to get tased while restraining her, prompting several witnesses to demand he refrain from the action, according to the video. 

After Martin asked why she was being arrested, the officer replied, for “being an idiot.” He later told her she was being arrested for trespassing, WXXI News noted. 

In a statement to The Hill, the Rochester Police Department said eight people were arrested on charges  that included criminal trespassing and resisting arrest. One individual was arrested and charged with inciting a riot. 

The arrests came as protests erupted in Rochester over news of the circumstances surrounding Prude’s death. Rochester officers placed a hood over his head and pressed his face to the pavement while arresting him earlier this year, according to video and records his family released. 

Prude had been detained after running naked through the streets. His brother said that he called the police to report his brother was having a mental health issue, Axios noted. Prude reportedly died one week following his encounter with police after being taken off life support.

Activists in Rochester on Wednesday called for firing the officers involved in Prude’s arrest and to approve legislation banning police from responding to reports associated with mental health issues.  

New York Attorney General Letitia James (D) said Wednesday her office was already investigating Prude’s death. Rochester Police Chief La’Ron Singletary also noted the investigation was being handled by James when speaking to reporters Wednesday. 

Elliot Shields, one of the Prude family lawyers, said his family is readying a wrongful death lawsuit, according to CNN.

New details surrounding Prude’s death have emerged amid a summer in which large-scale demonstrations have swept the nation in response to police brutality against Black Americans. Demonstrations first erupted after the May 25 death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, with activists demanding policies to confront racial injustice. 

The police shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wis., last month was followed by a new wave of demonstrations. 

On Thursday, Prude’s daughter said in a remote press conference that a “racist” police officer killed her father.

“A racist police officer saw a Black man in need and decided that he just didn’t deserve to live,” Tashyrah Prude said. “There’s nothing that anyone could say that could convince me that he was a threat to the police officers.”

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