Rochester Officials Announce Police Reforms after Death of Daniel Prude

Mayor Lovely A. Warren addresses members of the media during a press conference in Rochester, NY Sept. 6, 2020. (Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images)

Daniel Prude, a 41-year-old Black man with mental health issues, died earlier this year at the hands of police. Amid yet another mishandled situation by police, the city of Rochester, New York has begun to move crisis intervention away from the police department.

What We Know:

  • The outrage comes after police officers placed a spit hood over the victim’s head, in order to restrain him, but it ended up being his demise. Protests blew up when footage of the incident in March surfaced. During a news conference on Sunday, Mayor Lovely Warren announced that the crisis intervention department and its budget would be moved to the city’s Department of Youth and Recreation Services.

“We had a human being in a need of help, in need of compassion. In that moment, we had an opportunity to protect him, to keep him warm, to bring him to safety, to begin the process of healing him and lifting him up,” Warren stated.

  • Police Chief La’Ron Singletary also appeared in Sunday’s conference to speak on the latest developments. He explained to reporters that he does acknowledge a reform is needed in his department and with the help of other experts and clinicians, he wanted to establish outpatient services for individuals who have mental health issues.
  • As of late, the timing is unclear of when the intervention team will transition from the police to the Department of Youth and Recreation Services. The process of how police should handle future mental health-related calls has also not been addressed.

  • One of the primary questions both the mayor and police chief received at the conference were whether they have considered resigning. Warren confidently committed to staying and seeing the police reforms to the end. Singletary clarified that all reports indicating his departure were simply rumors and he was not asked to step down either.
  • Officers Josiah Harris, Paul Ricotta, Francisco Santiago, Andrew Specksgoor, Troy Talladay, Mark Vaughn and Sgt. Mark Magri have been suspended as of Warren’s announcement on Thursday last week. New York Attorney General Letitia James said Saturday that she has empowered a state grand jury to investigate Prude’s death.
  • Police videos of the encounter on March 23rd were released late last week and demonstrate the officers’ use of excessive force. An autopsy report from Monroe County Medical Examiner Nadia Granger, revealed that Prude’s cause of death was due to “complications of asphyxia in the setting of physical restraint”. Traces of the drug PCP were also contributed to his death.

Joe Prude, Daniel Prude’s Brother, has previously stated that Daniel had known mental health and drug-related problems. He claimed he started “acting out” a day prior to the incident (March 22). That same day, Joe called 911 and had Daniel hospitalized for roughly three hours for a mental health check. After that day, the incident occurred.