In the hours leading up to Daniel Prude’s fatal encounter with police in Rochester, New York, the 41-year-old was making suicidal statements and threw himself down a flight of stairs, his brother said.
Joe Prude is seen in police body camera footage telling a police officer about Daniel’s erratic behavior after his brother arrived in New York from Chicago on March 22.
The footage, provided to CNN by attorneys for the Prude family, shows Joe talking with an officer shortly after 3 a.m. on March 23.
Joe Prude said he called police after Daniel suddenly ran from his home and he was worried his brother may have been hit by a train passing nearby.
Joe tells the responding officer Daniel was on the drug PCP and was hallucinating earlier in the day. Joe describes Daniel making suicidal statements and throwing himself “head first” down 21 stairs into a basement.
Joe said he called police and Daniel was taken to Strong Memorial Hospital. He was there for “only a few hours,” before a medical taxi dropped him off back at Joe’s home. Joe told the officer Daniel was “calm” after returning from the hospital and didn’t make more suicidal statements.
Joe said Daniel asked for a cigarette and when he went to get one Daniel ran out the back door. Daniel was wearing a white tank top and black long johns when he left. He wasn’t wearing shoes or a coat, Joe said.
At one point in the video, a call is heard on the officer’s radio describing an unclothed male with blood on him.
“That’s my brother,” Joe Prude said.
Daniel Prude was approached by police in a different area of Rochester at approximately 3:16 a.m., according to body camera footage from three responding officers. He is naked in the video.
After Daniel is taken to the hospital following his interaction with police, an officer returns to Joe’s home around 4 a.m., saying “the bosses” want an officer to stay with them “until they figure some more stuff out.”
The officer tells Joe that Daniel was again taken to Strong Memorial Hospital but doesn’t mention his condition: Daniel Prude was declared brain dead when he got to the hospital, and he wound up dying a week after the encounter. The Medical Examiner ruled his death a homicide.
The release of the video this week set off a back-and-forth between Rochester’s mayor and police union. The mayor claimed she was left in the dark about the case for months and the police union said officers did nothing wrong. The case is the latest involving the death of a Black man following his interaction with police, an issue in the national spotlight.
On the body cam video, Joe and his wife go into detail with the officer about Daniel’s behavior earlier in the day. They said Daniel was kicked off a train from Chicago for smoking and they picked him up at a shelter in Buffalo, New York, around noon and brought him to their home in Rochester.
Shortly afterward, Daniel began making paranoid statements that Joe and his wife were going to kill him. Joe’s wife describes Daniel jumping under furniture and putting couches on top of himself. It was during that episode that Daniel threw himself down the stairs.
“We don’t know what to do with him because of that stuff he was on,” Joe’s wife told the officer.
Joe Prude told CNN’s Polo Sandoval he had never seen his brother act like that before.
“That is what prompted me to call for help, because that never happened…In all the years of me being in my brother’s life, my brother ain’t never behaved like that, so all I can say is the cry for help, it went unanswered.”
In the body camera footage, Joe Prude asked the officer if his brother was cooperative when police “got him.” He was told yes.
Body cam footage shows altercation
The body camera footage provided by the family’s attorneys contains footage from three officers and photographs of the blood on Prude’s arms, hands and feet. It’s not clear where the blood is from. The footage shows police are on the scene of a T-Mobile store which has a broken window around 3:12 a.m. Officers suggest it “might be that guy.” “Mr. PCP.”
At approximately 3:16 a.m., an officer approaches a naked Daniel Prude with his Taser pointed at him and tells him to get on the ground and put his hands behind his back. He complies. He is told not to move and is cuffed. That takes 21 seconds and is in the middle of the street.
There are at least three patrol cars on scene. Another officer helps the responding officer get hand sanitizer because Prude has “got blood all over him.”
The officer who handcuffed Prude is heard saying, “That was easy and fast.”
The same officer said he saw Daniel Prude almost get hit by a car and references a tow truck driver Prude earlier told he has coronavirus.
Prude is heard repeatedly saying, “In Jesus Christ, I pray, Amen,” referencing his genitals and asking for a gun. “Give me your gun, I need it, man, please,” Prude is saying.
He also says, “I’m going to sue your a**,” and asks, “One of you all smoke?”
Shortly after 3:19 a.m., while cuffed and sitting on the street, an officer places a spit sock over Daniel Prude’s head without any warning. He can subsequently be heard spitting and asking to get the sock off his face. He asked for mace and the gun again before officers tell him to stay down and they move in.
Prude yells officers are “trying to kill me” and is crying. “Get your feet off my face, man,” he says, and gurgling sounds can be heard as he tries to speak further.
Several officers tell Prude to calm down, tell him to stop spitting, and one officer, warns him he will get Tased. Prude is being held down and crying. An officer has his leg on his back.
The paramedic on scene says she is going to give Prude something to calm him down. She is soon told by officers that he may be on PCP and he said he has coronavirus.
At 3:22 a.m., the officer asks him, “You good, man?” and Prude doesn’t respond.
The officer says Prude is puking “straight water” and Prude is largely out of frame.
A minute later, the officer instructs others to roll him on his side after noticing he doesn’t have chest compressions. Prude is no longer saying anything and appears to be limp. “We need you,” shouts one paramedic to the other.
Prude is turned over so he is now face up and one paramedic instructs the other to begin CPR at 3:24 a.m. He is told to keep the cuff on “for a second,” as they start CPR.
The cuffs are later removed and Prude is placed on a gurney.
During a press conference Wednesday, Joe Prude said Daniel was declared brain dead when he arrived at the hospital and died a week later.
His death was ruled a homicide by the Monroe County Medical Examiner, according to a copy of the autopsy report obtained by lawyers for his family. The report cites complications of asphyxia in the setting of physical restraint as a finding. The report also cites excited delirium and acute PCP intoxication as causes of death.
Daniel Prude’s family strugged to cope
Joe’s wife is seen in the body camera footage telling police Daniel’s family “can’t deal with him in Chicago so they sent him here to his brother.” Both Joe and his wife said they don’t know how to deal with him either.
Both said Daniel used PCP or angel dust in Chicago by dipping his cigarettes and marijuana blunts in it, but they didn’t see him use it in their home.
Joe Prude said all his relatives are in Chicago, where Daniel Prude stays with his sister. He said he wants to get him back there.
Police union criticizes mayor
Seven Rochester police officers involved in Daniel’s arrest were suspended a day after attorneys for Prude’s family released the body camera footage.
“Mr. (Daniel) Prude lost his life in our city. He lost his life because of the actions of our police officers,” Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren said Thursday in a news conference.
Warren said some of the officers who were suspended appear on the body camera footage and others “had a duty to stop what was happening.” They are being suspended with pay “against the advice of council,” she said.
The mayor also said Thursday that she had been misled by the city’s police chief, who she said led her to believe Prude died in police custody of an overdose. Warren said saw the body camera footage for the first time nearly a month ago.
The president of Rochester’s police union disputed Warren’s statements, saying Friday the mayor is not being honest about what she knew and when she knew it.
Rochester Police Locust Club President Michael Mazzeo insisted the officers involved in the encounter with Prude followed their training and protocols word for word.
“Exactly what they were trained on, exactly what that training module is, is a step-by-step example right to the second on what these officers did on that scene,” Mazzeo said.
Many of the officers involved went through state-mandated training for “situations like these” about 30 to 40 days prior to Prude’s arrest, Mazzeo said.
CNN requested more information from the union on exactly what training Mazzeo was referring to and if it pertained to all officers citywide.
Mazzeo describes Warren’s statements about Prude’s death as “careless and reckless” with regards to officers’ safety.
Mazzeo also criticized the release of the body camera footage while the investigation is ongoing.
“There is an absolute prejudicial concern on taking such a reckless action regarding any incident that is an ongoing criminal investigation,” Mazzeo said. He added that the video itself doesn’t provide a full picture of what happened and “needs to be considered in context with other investigative elements.
Rochester Police Chief La’Ron Singletary said Wednesday that he opened a criminal and internal investigation the morning after Prude’s encounter with police.
Warren is ordering Singletary to brief her on both investigations and tasked him with providing a report within 30 days on how to improve mental health-related calls to police, according to a press release from her office.
Warren also announced the city will provide additional funding and explore potential partnerships “to pair mental health professionals with law enforcement to allow them to provide a more robust response to mental health-related 911 calls,” the press release said.
The hospital where Daniel Prude was treated before and after his interactions police said Friday they do not agree with criticism that their care is “an example of the systemic shortfalls we all want to address.”
“Based on our review, we believe his care was medically appropriate and compassionate,” the University of Rochester Medical Center, which operates Strong Memorial Hospital, said in a statement.
The hospital said privacy laws prevent medical officials from discussing Prude’s care but they have sent his family a form, asking for permission to share information.
New York Attorney General Letitia James started an investigation of the case on April 16.
“The Prude family and the greater Rochester community deserve answers, and we will continue to work around the clock to provide them,” James said in a statement.
James’s office also said Friday that it never told Rochester officials to withhold information about Prude’s death as the city claimed.
City of Rochester Communications Director Justin Roj said Friday that Assistant Attorney General Jennifer Sommers on June 4 “stated that, while she cannot legally advise us what to do, she asks that the City withhold the release of information including the body-worn camera footage, as the release will interfere with the Attorney General’s ongoing investigation.”
City Attorney Stephanie Prince told reporters on Friday that “Sommers indicated that she had an ongoing investigation and that in matters like this they prefer that material not be released to the public because they find that that interferes with their investigation and she made specific reference to the body worn camera video.”
James’s office refuted the claim and said, “There was never a request from the Attorney General’s Office to the city of Rochester Corporation Counsel to withhold information about the events surrounding the death of Daniel Prude, plain and simple.”
“Once again, the city of Rochester and the Rochester Police Department are free to move forward with their own investigation,” the spokesperson for James’s office said.
But based on Sommer’s comments from June, city corporate counsel advised the mayor to keep silent on the matter publicly, City Corporation Counsel Tim Curtin said Friday.
Protests erupted overnight in Rochester and eight people were arrested for charges including disorderly conduct, resisting arrest and harassment, police said.
Rochester Police Department public information officer Jackie Shuman said two officers were injured when protesters threw rocks and glass bottles.
The officers were treated at the hospital and released, Shuman said.
CNN’s Kristina Sgueglia, Taylor Romine and Anna Sturla contributed to this report.