Officials in Rochester, N.Y., Tried to Withhold Information About Daniel Prude’s Death, Documents Show

A makeshift memorial for Daniel Prude is seen prior to a march on September 06, 2020 in Rochester, New York. (Photo by Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images)

A new development has risen from the incident involving Daniel Prude, a 41-year-old Black man who died at the hands of Rochester police. Documents released by the city earlier this week revealed that officials allegedly attempted to withhold information for months about his death.

What We Know:

  • Prude was detained by law enforcement on March 23rd as a result of a mental breakdown he was having. Unfortunately, he died due to “complications of asphyxia in the setting of physical restraint,” according to a medical examiner. His death has since been ruled a homicide. Footage of the incident finally surfaced recently and drew heavy criticism and outrage from protesters in an already unstable social environment in the country.
  • Many of the documents highlighted the actions by heads in the police department and implied that law enforcement tried to cover up what had happened. The documents were released Monday as Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren announced she was relieving Police Chief La’Ron Singletary of his command, among a few other officials, two weeks ahead of his planned retirement.
  • Moreover, these documents ended up questioning the major points of the cities argument on the topic for the past few weeks. Some of those points being why Prude’s death was not immediately after it happened and who was trying to keep it private. “We certainly do not want people to misinterpret the officers’ actions and conflate this incident with any recent killings of unarmed Black men by law enforcement nationally,” Deputy Police Chief Mark Simmons said to a colleague in June.

“That would simply be a false narrative, and could create animosity and potentially violent blowback in this community as a result,” he continued.

  • This development ended up proving the family’s earlier accusations against authorities of trying to hide the evidence. As a result, Mayor Warren prematurely relieved the city’s police chief on Monday. The investigation, which is still ongoing, has already affirmed that several law enforcement and officials did not handle Prude’s death appropriately and lied to the public by withholding information.
  • “This initial look has shown what so many have suspected, that we have a pervasive problem in the Rochester Police Department,” stated Warren. “One that views everything through the eyes of the badge and not the citizens we serve. It shows that Mr. Prude’s death was not taken as seriously as it should have been by those who reviewed the case throughout City government at every level.”

Within the past two weeks, the city of Rochester has undergone some changes in its police department. Warren spoke in a news conference stating various police reforms will be established to avoid future incidents such as these. Police department investigator Jacqueline Shuman has yet to comment further on the matter.