Daniel Prude was an African-American man who suffered from mental health issues. He spent his final days in Rochester, New York, United States where his older brother Joseph “Joe” D. Prude is residing.
In the early morning of March 23, 2020, Daniel suffered an acute, manic, psychotic episode in Rochester where he was visiting Joe. The former ran out of the house so the latter called the police for help.
As shown in a Facebook Live video of one witness, Daniel was undressing and defecating in the street. Several other people called the police, too, including a tow truck driver who described him to the police as a naked, bloodied man trying to open the door of a locked car.
Two emergency medical technicians including Brett Barnes arrived. They were with seven Rochester Police Department officers namely Mark Vaughn, Troy Taladay, Francisco Santiago, Paul Ricotta, Andrew Specksgoor, Josiah Harris and Sergeant Michael Magri.
At 3:16 a.m., the cops approached Daniel, who was kneeling naked in the middle of a snowy wet street. Vaughn pointed a Taser at Daniel and asked him six times to get on the ground and the latter complied.
“In Jesus Christ I pray, Amen,” Daniel repeatedly said while handcuffed. He repeatedly yelled at the cops and asked them to give their guns to him.
“You don’t got AIDS, do you?” One of the officers asked Daniel. “You got HIV?”
At 3:19 a.m., Daniel yelled at the cops that he has the new coronavirus (COVID-19) and continuously spat in their direction. When he sat up, Vaughn put a white spit hood over his head.
“Calm down,” Vaughn told Daniel. “Stop spitting.”
“You’re trying to kill me!” Daniel yelled. He kept yelling at them so they pulled him to the ground.
Vaughn pushed Daniel’s head into the ground and held him there for 2 minutes and 15 seconds. Eventually, Daniel’s shouts turned into muffled voice then silence.
The spit hood was then removed from Daniel’s head and Barnes administer CPR. Paramedics arrived at 3:21 a.m. and at 3:27 a.m., Daniel was loaded into an ambulance.
“A racist police officer saw a black man in need and decided that he just didn’t deserve to live,” Daniel’s daughter Tashyra Prude said during a press conference on September 2, 2020. In an interview with The Associated Press, as cited by Chicago Tribune, she said her father “should have been met with a mental health specialist.”
On September 4, 2020, Rochester mayor Lovely Warren announced the suspension of the seven police officers involved in the suffocation death of Daniel. The cops will still receive salaries while suspended.
Black Lives Matter protesters condemned how the cops handled Daniel. Here are 13 more facts about him:
- His nickname was Rell.
- He was 5’10” and weighed 230lbs.
- He has five children including Tashyra.
- He was a warehouse worker.
- He was a resident of Chicago, Illinois, USA, where his Joe Louis Cole and sister Tameshay Notasha Prude also live. He previously lived in Bellwood, Illinois.
- Among his family and relatives are Dantrial Prude and Junera T. Prude.
- On March 21, 2020, he called his aunt Letoria Moore. She told NBC Chicago that he was “the normal Rell” that she knew and she did not know “what was the situation, why he was going through what he was going through that night” but he “didn’t deserve to be killed by the police.”
- He had a clinical history of agitation, combative behavior and suicidal ideation and possible auditory hallucinations and paranoia, according to his autopsy report. Before his death, he made suicidal threats and was taken into custody on a Mental Health Arrest.
- On March 22, 2020, he arrived in Rochester from Chicago via an Amtrak train. He was kicked off the train for smoking, picked up at a shelter in Buffalo, New York around noon and brought to Joe’s home in Rochester. As soon as he arrived in the house, he jumped headfirst down a flight of stair. On the same day, he received a mental health evaluation at Strong Memorial Hospital in Rochester and was released at 11 p.m.
- His heartbeat resumed while he was being transported to Strong Memorial Hospital on March 23, 2020. He was brain dead when he arrived at the hospital.
- He was taken off like support on March 30, 2020. He died at the age of 41.
- On April 22, 2020, Monroe County medical examiner Dr. Nadia Granger issued a report ruling his death a homicide as a result of “complications of asphyxia in the setting of physical restraint.” Excited delirium and acute intoxication by phencyclidine (PCP) were listed as contributing factors.
- A grand jury voted not to indict any officers in his death. On February 23, 2021, New York attorney general Letitia James explained, “Daniel Prude was in the throes of a mental health crisis and what he needed was compassion, care and help from trained professionals. Tragically, he received none of those things. We concluded that there was sufficient evidence surrounding Mr. Prude’s death to warrant presenting the case to a grand jury, and we presented the most comprehensive case possible.”