The family of Daniel Prude is demanding justice months after the 41-year-old unarmed Black man passed away after Rochester police may have suffocated him during an arrest.
At a press conference on Wednesday, Prude’s relatives and local activists demanded that the officers involved be fired and charged in his homicide.
“They treated my brother like a piece of garbage,” Daniel Prude’s brother Joe said in a video posted by the Rochester Democrat & Chronicle. “And what do you do to garbage? You throw it out. So that’s basically what they done to my brother.”
“We are in need of accountability for the wrongful death and murder of Daniel Prude. He was treated inhumanely and without dignity,” Ashley Gantt, a community organizer from Free the People Roc and the New York Civil Liberties Union, said at the conference. “These officers killed someone and are still patrolling in our community.”
On March 23, Joe called 911 on Daniel, who was visiting from Chicago, as Daniel reportedly ran out of Joe’s home in an erratic state without clothes.
Per police reports obtained by The New York Times, Daniel had been taken to a hospital the previous day after he reportedly began experiencing mental health problems.
In police body cam footage made public by Daniel’s family and local activists on Wednesday, Daniel is seen complying with officers, who handcuff him after telling him to get on the ground.
In the video, Daniel is seen spitting and then yelling at officers to let him go — prompting cops to place a “spit hood” over his head.
Moments later, when Daniel tries to stand up, police wrestle him down and at least one cop is seen pressing Daniel’s face into the pavement for more than two minutes. At least one other officer is also seen pressing their knee onto Daniel’s back.
Once they notice that fluid is seeping from Daniel’s mouth, some of the officers express concern before realizing that he is unconscious.
Daniel was then transported to the hospital and placed on life support. Sadly, he died seven days later, on March 30.
Per the autopsy report, the Monroe County medical examiner ruled Daniel’s death to be a homicide caused by “complications of asphyxia in the setting of physical restraint.” The report also said that “excited delirium” and acute intoxication by phencyclidine, or the drug PCP, were contributing factors in Daniel’s passing.
Though he called 911 on his brother, Joe did not think Daniel’s encounter with the police would lead to his death.
“I placed a phone call for my brother to get help. Not for my brother to get lynched,” Joe was quoted by TMZ as saying.
The incident is currently under investigation by New York State Attorney General Letitia James, as well as the Rochester police chief.
The officers involved, however, are still on the force.