Naked in ‘spit hoods,’ protesters demand police reform after Daniel Prude’s death

Northeast

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (NewsNation Now) — In reference to the death of Daniel Prude, protesters sat naked, wearing only “spit hoods,” and called for police reform outside of Rochester’s City Public Safety Building on Monday.

The group of six demonstrators sat on the ground with their hands behind their backs — mirroring the way Rochester police took Prude into custody — to demand state action on several police accountability measures, NewsNation affiliate WROC reported.

Prude, a 41-year-old Black man, died after police found him running naked in a street March 23, put a mesh hood over his head to stop him from spitting, then held him down for about two minutes until he stopped breathing. He died a week later after he was taken off life support.

His brother had called 911 seeking help for Prude’s unusual behavior. He had been taken to a hospital for a mental health evaluation earlier that night but released after a few hours, his brother told officers.

An autopsy report ruled Prude’s death as a homicide, citing “complications of asphyxia in the setting of physical restraint.” The report also showed that Prude had PCP in his system at the time of his death.

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. The police union representing the officers said “they had followed correct protocols per their training.”

After body camera video of the encounter surfaced last week, demonstrators have held nightly protests to demand justice.

Protesters on Monday called for state lawmakers to develop legislation barring police from responding to mental health calls. Demonstrators also demanded legislation requiring on- or off-duty law enforcement to intervene in instances of abuse or misconduct, as well as a statewide ban on use of projectiles or chemical weapons against protesters.

Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren proposed police reforms to better address mental health issues in the community on Sunday.

City Council member Mary Lupien spoke with WROC about Daniel Prude’s death and the protest Monday.

“It was cold. He was handcuffed on the ground, no blanket,” Lupien said. “It can too quickly be sensationalized and really compartmentalized, but I think it’s really impactful to just imagine as a human being this happening to you and your loved one.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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