Protests begin in Rochester, New York, after Black man's suffocation death in police custody

Rochester New York
(Image credit: MKYeagerPhotography/IStock)

Dozens of protesters gathered in the streets of Rochester, New York, on Wednesday night after body camera footage of the death of Daniel Prude, a Black man, in police custody became public.

Prude, 41, died of asphyxiation March 30 after his family removed him from life support, seven days after police arrested him on the street. They put a "spit hood" over his head and pressed his face into the road for two minutes before an officer noticed he was not moving and asked, "You good, man?" the Democrat & Chronicle reports.

Prude was visiting family in Rochester on March 23, and his brother Joe Prude called the police after Daniel Prude "ran out of his home in an erratic state" in near-freezing temperatures, The New York Times reports. He had been taken to the hospital the day before for apparent mental health distress. The footage showed police telling Prude to "stop spitting," while Daniel Prude at one point demanded the officer's gun.

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Joe Prude told the Democrat & Chronicle that the police "treated my brother like a piece of garbage." The New York Civil Liberties Union said Prude's death was an example of how police are unequipped to handle people in mental distress, tweeting that he "needed mental health assistance" but was instead "handcuffed in near-freezing temperatures and killed by Rochester police."

The city said it was investigating Prude's death until New York Attorney General Letitia James began her own investigation in April. Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) said he hadn't seen the video, but it was described to him as "very disturbing." He affirmed the incident was "under investigation and has been for months."

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Kathryn Krawczyk

Kathryn is a graduate of Syracuse University, with degrees in magazine journalism and information technology, along with hours to earn another degree after working at SU's independent paper The Daily Orange. She's currently recovering from a horse addiction while living in New York City, and likes to share her extremely dry sense of humor on Twitter.