ROCHESTER, N.Y. (NewsNation Now) — Police and protesters clashed Thursday in Rochester, New York, for the second straight day.
In Times Square, Black Lives Matter activists were nearly run down Thursday by a dark sedan speeding through a crowd of demonstrators.
It’s just some of the recent fallout from the March death of Daniel Prude in Rochester, after police bodycam video surfaced this week.
All seven Rochester police officers involved in the case are now suspended with pay. Their union rushed to defend them at a Friday news conference.
“The message that was conveyed from the chief’s office at that time was that there were no concerns with the actions of our members and that they had followed correct protocols per their training,” said Michael Mazzeo, president of the Rochester Police Locust Club, which represents the officers.
Mazzeo brought a visual aid to the meeting with the media: a light mesh ‘spit-mask’ identical to the one Rochester officers placed on Prude, 41, minutes before he became unresponsive. Prude would be taken off life support a week after his encounter with police.
He was found disoriented, naked and covered in blood. His brother had called 911, saying he had taken the drug PCP and was having a mental health emergency.
The mask was placed over his head because Prude had been claiming to have coronavirus and spitting at first responders. The masks are commonly used to protect police and EMS workers from bodily fluids.
The medical examiner’s report lists Prude’s cause of death as “complications of asphyxia in the setting of a physical restraint.” The report also listed acute PCP intoxication.
Prude’s family is in the early stages of preparing a wrongful death lawsuit against the city of Rochester.
Police made eight arrests overnight Thursday as they clashed with protesters outside Rochester City Hall, pushing the crowd back with pepper spray.
Alongside those clashes, there also seems to be a rift developing between local officials and different levels of government.
Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren said she was told to keep quiet about the case by the New York Attorney General’s office, which is overseeing the investigation into the officers’ conduct. The AG has told NewsNation that is not the case.
“At this time, we have not asked the city of Rochester nor the Rochester Police Department (RPD) to refrain from launching an internal investigation. In fact, we encourage both Rochester and the RPD to proceed with an internal review,” the office of Attorney General Letitia James said in a statement.
No timeline has yet been given for the completion of the investigation, only a promise that it will be thorough and fair.
After his actions were criticized by the police union, Rochester Police Chief La’Ron Singletary scheduled a Friday news conference. Sources said he would tell his side of the story, but that event was abruptly canceled.
As for the dark sedan that drove through the crowd of Black Likes Matter demonstrators in Times Square, the group tells NewsNation the occupants were Trump supporters who had been involved in an earlier altercation with them.
The NYPD has not confirmed that, but says it is looking into the incident. There were no serious injuries.