LYNCHED ON CAMERA - Rochester Rocked: Daniel Prude police killing ignites outrage

CYRIL JOSH BARKER Amsterdam News Staff Additional reporting NAYABA ARINDE Amsterdam News Editor | 9/10/2020, midnight
The fallout after video surfaces of an unarmed Black man being physically restrained in Rochester, N.Y. resulting in his death ...
Police body cam footage of killing of Daniel Prude in Rochester, NY Rochester Police Department

State Attorney General Letitia James announced this week that her office is taking action on the Prude killing.

“The Prude family and the Rochester community have been through great pain and anguish,” James said. “My office will immediately move to empanel a grand jury as part of our exhaustive investigation into this matter.”

Prude joins the list of names of Black Americans who have died at the hands of police this year including George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery. Following his death, protest demonstrations have been going on in Rochester since release of the bodycam video on Sept. 2. While some have turned violent, the majority of demonstrations have remained peaceful.

On Sunday, Sept. 6, more than 1,000 people peacefully protested outside of the Public Safety Building where police made no arrests. On Monday night, police reported a crowd of 600 people arrived at the Public Safety Building.

Activist organization Free the People Roc has been at the helm of organizing many of the protests. The organization has several demands including the resignation of Warren and that the officers involved be fired. They plan to continue to march until their demands are met.

“The officers involved in Prude’s killing must be fired and prosecuted,” the group said. “And the Rochester Police Department must be stopped from responding to mental health calls and defunded.”

Retired NYPD detective and founder of Blacks in Law Enforcement Alliance Marq Claxton told the AmNews that he questions the delay of the bodycam footage of Prude’s killing. He said Prude’s killing is another example of the need for more increased accountability and transparency by the government.

“Clearly, the only reason that the sordid details are being examined is because the progressive movement of activists forced the release of body camera video,” Claxton said. “The Rochester P.D. were obviously fully committed to burying this incident along with the body of Mr. Prude. Sadly, even with the disclosure of the video and autopsy results and the shocking claim by the mayor that she had not been fully informed about the circumstances of Mr. Prude’s death, the police still have their jobs. There will be no substantive reform in policing without immediate full accountability.”

President of People For the American Way and former NAACP President Ben Jealous told the AmNews that Prude is dead because police didn’t offer to protect or serve him. Jealous is calling for more mental health training for law enforcement. “It is heart wrenching that someone who needed help with a mental health crisis was instead pinned to the ground, suffocated, and killed at the hands of those we should be able to reach out too when we need help,” Jealous said. “Daniel’s murder must not be in vain. We must take this opportunity to insist on policies that properly train our police officers, incorporate mental health professionals in how we respond to emergency mental health calls.”

Following a national pattern of cop resignations following protests against oft times fatal police brutality, after over a week of civil unrest on the streets of Rochester on Tuesday afternoon, Rochester Police Chief La’Ron Singletary and all of his four executive staff retired, resigned, or went back to their former ranks.

One of the demands Free the People Roc had been that Singletary resign. He will, however, remain on the job through the end of the month. Under his leadership, the police department has been accused of covering up Prude’s death leading to the delay of the release of the bodycam footage.

“The members of the Rochester Police Department and the Greater Rochester Community know my reputation and know what I stand for,” Singletary said. “The mischaracterization and the politicization of the actions that I took after being informed of Mr. Prude’s death is not based on facts, and is not what I stand for.”

Claxton countered, “To me it shows that they know they are criminally exposed for their cover-up attempt and now they won’t have to make public statements about their actions.”

On Tuesday, Sept. 8, Tameshay Prude, sister of the deceased filed a civil rights lawsuit in United States District Court for the Western District of New York against Singletary, the cops involved in the arrest and the city of Rochester.