Protests erupted in Rochester Wednesday following the release of police body-cam video of a black man who reportedly suffocated after cops put a “spit hood” over his head during his arrest — as his family called for the officers involved to be charged with murder, according to reports.
Nine people were arrested after protesting the death of Daniel Prude, 41, the Democrat & Chronicle reported.
The protests began small at the Monroe County Public Safety Building but grew larger throughout the day before police fired pepper spray and tear gas into a crowd outside police headquarters, according to NPR.
Demonstrators later moved to the site where Prude was arrested, and a large block party gradually formed. Organizers said they planned to remain there until the cops are fired and the city bars police from responding to mental-health calls.
“We want the larger community to know this is not something that happens in other cities, in other states, it happens right here in Rochester,” said Ashley Gantt, an organizer with Free the People Roc, a local Black Lives Matter group, the news outlet reported.
One of the suspects was injured during the arrest and treated at a local hospital, according to the Democrat & Chronicle.
Ryan Howe, 27, was charged with inciting a riot, a misdemeanor. The others face charges of third-degree criminal trespass and resisting arrest.
Meanwhile, Prude’s brother called the officers’ actions “cold-blooded murder” in a news conference held by the family that highlighted the newly released video, Fox News reported.
“How many more brothers got to die for society to understand that this needs to stop?” Joe said as he called for the three officers involved in the arrest to be fired and charged with murder.
Daniel was left brain dead and died a week later, on March 30, after police were seen in the footage laughing at him as he lay naked and cuffed on the ground during his arrest.
The medical examiner ruled his death a homicide, caused by “complications of asphyxia in the setting of physical restraint, excited delirium [and] acute phencyclidine [PCP] intoxication.”
The deadly encounter unfolded March 23 when cops were called to Jefferson Avenue after Joe had called 911 for help just after 3:15 a.m., according to advocacy group Free The People Roc, which identified the officers as Mark Vaughn, Troy Talladay and Fransisco Santiago.
A truck driver reported that Daniel had been shouting and trying to break into a car while claiming he had the coronavirus, according to The New York Times.
“I know that there is a rhetoric that is out there that this is a cover-up,” Rochester Police Chief La’Ron Singletary said in a separate news conference Wednesday, Fox News reported. “This is not a cover-up.”
Joe told The Appeal that his brother’s death was a “cold-blooded murder” and a “lynching.”
“My brother was a loving individual. He was a likable guy and a damn good brother. He made people laugh. He brought joy to people. He didn’t deserve what happened to him,” he told the news outlet.
In a statement Wednesday, New York Attorney General Letitia James said: “The death of Daniel Prude was a tragedy, and I extend my deepest condolences to his family. I share the community’s concerns about ensuring a fair and independent investigation into his death and support their right to protest.
“As with every investigation, we will follow the facts of this case and ensure a complete and thorough examination of all relevant parties. We will work tirelessly to provide the transparency and accountability that all our communities deserve,” James added.
The AG’s office is investigating the incident as per Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Executive Order 147, which was signed in July 2015.
On Wednesday, Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren said the probe by the New York attorney general’s office took the matter out of the city’s hands.
“This is not something in our wheelhouse, in our control at this moment in time,” Warren said, according to NPR. “Had it been, this is something we would have talked about months ago.”