Protests planned after video shows fatal arrest of Black man in upstate New York

NEW YORK, Sept 3- Protests were planned on Thursday after the release of a video showing the arrest of a Black man who died by asphyxiation in March after police in upstate New York put a hood over his head as he knelt on the ground, handcuffed and naked. Activists, who were planning protests in Rochester and New York City’s Times Square on Thursday, have called for the…

By Gabriella Borter and Jonathan Allen

NEW YORK, Sept 3 (Reuters) – Protests were planned onThursday after the release of a video showing the arrest of aBlack man who died by asphyxiation in March after police inupstate New York put a hood over his head as he knelt on theground, handcuffed and naked.

The family of the deceased man, Daniel Prude, on Wednesdaycalled for the arrest of the police officers involved in hisdeath, which came seven days after the incident.

The Monroe County medical examiner ruled Prude’s death ahomicide caused by “complications of asphyxia in the setting ofphysical restraint,” according to an autopsy report, the NewYork Times reported.

Prude’s death occurred on March 23, two months before thedeath of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police spurredinternational protests against police brutality and racialinjustice in the United States.

Activists, who were planning protests in Rochester and NewYork City’s Times Square on Thursday, have called for theofficers who arrested Prude to be arrested and charged in hisdeath.

After the video’s release on Wednesday, protests broke outin downtown Rochester, a city near Lake Ontario about 300 milesnorth of New York City. Police released pepper spray on thedemonstrators and arrested nine people, the Democrat andChronicle reported.

Prude’s family released body camera footage of the arrest onWednesday, which they obtained after filing a freedom ofinformation act request, CBS-affiliate WROC-TV reported.

The video showed Prude, naked, kneeling on the ground withhis hands behind his back and shouting as a group of officersstood around him.

One officer was heard saying, “You want to put it on him?”Then an officer placed a “spit hood” over Prude’s head, whichthe Democrat and Chronicle newspaper reported was intended toprotect from possible coronavirus transmission.

In the video, Prude could be heard shouting, “Takethis…off my face!” and “You’re trying to kill me!” before hisshouts turned to cries and became muffled. Officers were heardsaying “Calm down” and “stop spitting.”

Later, the video showed an officer kneeling on Prude’s backwhile Prude was silent and snow fell around them. Someone washeard saying, “start CPR.” Minutes later, the video showed Prudebeing loaded into an ambulance on a stretcher.

Rochester police chief La’Ron Singletary told reporters onWednesday that internal and criminal investigations wereunderway.

“I know that there’s a rhetoric that is out there that thisis a cover-up. This is not a cover-up,” Singletary said.

Rochester police declined further comment on Thursday, and alawyer for Prude’s family did not immediately respond to arequest for comment.

On Wednesday, Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren called the video”very disturbing.”

“We’re going to do everything we can to hold someoneaccountable,” Warren told reporters.

Prude’s family told reporters that Prude had been strugglingwith mental health. His brother, Joe Prude, said he had calledpolice because he was worried when his brother left home thatnight.

“I placed a phone call for my brother to get help, not formy brother to get lynched,” Joe Prude said.

Prude’s autopsy report said “excited delirium” and acuteintoxication by phencyclidine, or the drug PCP, were alsocontributing factors to his death, the New York Times reported.

“Mr. Prude needed therapeutic intervention. Instead what hegot was execution,” Rev. Lewis Stewart, president of UnitedChristian Leadership Ministry of Western New York, toldreporters on Thursday.

New York Attorney General Letitia James said in a statementthat her office has been investigating Prude’s death, as NewYork State Law requires whenever police are involved in acivilian’s death.

“We will work tirelessly to provide the transparency andaccountability that all our communities deserve,” James said.(Reporting by Gabriella Borter and Jonathan AllenEditing by Alistair Bell)

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