A medical examiner has ruled that a Black man who died of asphyxiation after a group of police officers put a hood over his head, then pressed his face into the pavement for two minutes, was a victim of “homicide.”
Daniel Prude died March 30 after he was taken off life support, seven days after the encounter with police in Rochester. His death received no public attention until Wednesday, when his family held a news conference and released police body camera video and written reports they obtained through a public records request.
“I placed a phone call for my brother to get help. Not for my brother to get lynched,” Prude’s brother, Joe Prude, said at a news conference. “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?”
The videos show Prude, who was naked on the ground, complying when police ask him to put his hands behind his back. Prude is agitated and shouting as he sits on the pavement in handcuffs for a few moments as a light snow falls. “Give me your gun, I need it,” he shouts.
Then the officers slam Prude’s head into the street. One officer holds his head down against the pavement with both hands, saying “calm down” and “stop spitting.” Another officer places a knee on his back.
“Trying to kill me!” Prude says, his voice becoming muffled and anguished under the hood.
“OK, stop. I need it. I need it,” the prone man begs before his shouts turn to whimpers and grunts.
The officers appear to become concerned after he stops moving, falls silent and they notice water coming out of Prude’s mouth.
“My man. You puking?” one says.
The officers then remove the hood and his handcuffs and medics can then be seen performing CPR before he’s loaded into an ambulance.
Spit hoods have been scrutinized as a factor in the deaths of several prisoners in the U.S. in recent years.
The 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.
Elliot Shields, the attorney representing the Prude family, said they intend to sue “everyone responsible for Daniel’s death.”
“I watched the video with them and it was one of the most difficult experiences of my life watching the family react to seeing their brother and son murdered by RPD while other officers, paramedics and EMTs and no one granted him any basic humanity,” he said at a news conference.
Watch the video below: