Daniel Prude family files suit against City of Rochester, alleges internal cover-up, demands jury trial

U.S.

In this image taken from police body camera video provided by Roth and Roth LLP, a Rochester police officer puts a hood over the head of Daniel Prude, on March 23, 2020, in Rochester, N.Y. Video of Prude, a Black man who had run naked through the streets of the western New York city, died of asphyxiation after a group of police officers put a hood over his head, then pressed his face into the pavement for two minutes, according to video and records released Wednesday, Sept. 2, 2020, by the man’s family. Prude died March 30 after he was taken off life support, seven days after the encounter with police in Rochester. (Rochester Police via Roth and Roth LLP via AP)

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (NewsNation Now) — The family of Daniel Prude filed a federal civil rights lawsuit Tuesday against the City of Rochester, Police Chief La’Ron Singletary, and the officers involved in the encounter that led to his death in March.

Seven Rochester police officers have been suspended with pay in connection to the incident: Officers Mark Vaughn, Troy Taladay, Paul Ricotta, Francisco Santiago, Andrew Specksgoor, Josiah Harris, and Sgt. Michael Magri.

Protests have been ongoing in Rochester since the news broke Wednesday.

NewsNation obtained the federal civil rights lawsuit filed on behalf of Daniel Prude.

The lawsuit from the family alleges an internal cover-up (page 5), and the family is demanding a jury trial. The lawsuit specifically aims to accomplish (page 65):

  • Award appropriate compensatory and punitive damages.
  • Award appropriate declaratory and injunctive relief, including appointing a federal monitor to oversee necessary reforms of the Defendant CITY’s process for investigating incidents where RPD Officers use force, and implementing measures to ensure that officers who use force without justification are disciplined.
  • Empanel a jury.
  • Award attorney’s fees and costs pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1988;
  • Award such other and further relief as the Court deems to be in the interest of justice

Two key notes to highlight from the lawsuit include:

  • RPD’s Major Crimes Unit continued to investigate the incident and on April 27, 2020, issued its report and concluded that the officers involved did not commit a crime. This was after the medical examiner’s report ruled the cause of death a homicide, and this meant that the officers faced no disciplinary action until after the video of the body camera footage was made public by his family over five months after the incident.
  • Three of the officers suspended for Prude’s death have refused to sit for an interview with the Attorney General’s office for the investigation.

This federal civil rights lawsuit comes on the same day as a major shake-up in Rochester Police Department leadership. Police Chief La’Ron Singletary announced his retirement.

Joining Singletary in retirement is Deputy Chief Morabito, Commander Fabian Rivera, and Commander Elena Correia. Rochester police officials say both Deputy Chief Mark Simmons and Commander Henry Favor are returning to the previously held rank of lieutenant.

This is a developing story, stay with NewsNation for the latest updates and download our app NewsNationNow for news alerts.

NewsNation affiliate WROC contributed to this report.

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