Daniel Prude was a Black American who died of asphyxiation in police custody on March 30, 2020, in Rochester, New York. He died at Strong Memorial Hospital where he had been brought one week before he died when he had stopped breathing after being forcefully restrained by Rochester police on a city street. Daniel Prude’s killing made headlines after a video footage was released in September 2020 in which Rochester, New York, police officers were spotted putting a spit hood over Prude’s head; leading to his death from asphyxia. Soon after the release of the video, the circumstances of Prude’s killing was linked to that of George Floyd‘s who died after he was pinned to the street under the knee of a white police officer, Derek Chauvin, in Minneapolis on May 25, 2020; almost two months after the death of Daniel Prude. Daniel Prude’s killing again sparked nationwide protests against police brutality and racism in the United States.
Daniel T. Prude was born in 1979 (age 41 years; at the time of death) in Chicago. He grew up in Chicago where he lived with his sister, Tameshay Prude. He was nicknamed “Rell” by his big Chicago-based family.
Family & Ethnicity
Daniel Prude belonged to a Chicago-based Black American family.
Parents & Siblings
His mother, Dorothy Prude, is deceased. His father, Joe Louis Prude, lives in Chicago. Prude’s sister, Tameshay Prude, lives in Chicago, and his older brother, Joe Prude, lives in Rochester, New York. He had lost his two brothers in recent years before he died.
Relationships & Wife
Daniel Prude was unmarried and had no children. There is no information about his affairs.
Police Custody & Death
According to Daniel Prude’s family, he visited his older brother, Joe Prude, who lives in Rochester, New York, from Chicago on March 22, 2020. Soon after his arrival, the same day, Daniel started showing erratic behavior, including jumping headfirst down a flight of stairs. When he went uncontrolled, his brother, Joe, dialed emergency services for help, and Daniel received medical counseling at Strong Memorial Hospital, and later that night, he was released from the hospital; however, after a few hours, Daniel resumed his abnormal behavior, and by 3 am, he fled his brother’s house. Reportedly, while wandering on West Main, Daniel shed his long underwear, tank top, and socks; meanwhile, his brother, Joe, called emergency services again to seek their assistance. According to a passerby, who also recorded a Facebook Live video of Prude, Daniel was begging someone to dial emergency services and when the person dialed, Prude ran off. According to the police narrative, Prude also broke windows at a business as he walked along. Moments later, at around 3:16 am, Prude was intercepted by nearly a dozen police officers who ordered Prude to lie on the ground and place his hands behind his back. According to the police, after they handcuffed Daniel Prude, they put a spit hood over his head to secure themselves from the COVID-19 as he was spitting on them. Later, Prude went uncontrolled and demanded to remove the spit hood; to this, the police officer pushed him over and forcibly held him down for 2 minutes, 15 seconds until he went unconscious. Throughout this, Prude remained naked in near-freezing temperatures. After he went unconscious, he was rushed to Strong Memorial Hospital where he was later declared “brain dead.” After spending nearly a week on life support, Daniel Prude died on March 30, 2020.
Police Officers Involved
Reportedly, it was officer Mark Vaughn who used his body weight and both hands to press the side of Prude’s head to the pavement. Later, in his report, Vaughn called this a “hypoglossal nerve technique.” Troy Talladay was the officer who applied his knee to Prude’s back. Another officer (name not disclosed) held his legs. Reportedly, at the start of the hold, Prude said,
You’re trying to kill me.”
After Vaughn released his hold, he asked Prude –
You good now?”
However, Prude didn’t respond. Brett Barnes, an emergency medical technician, was also there on the spot who asked the officers to turn Prude on his back, and he also applied CPR to Prude when he went unresponsive.
After performing toxicology tests as part of the autopsy, a low level of phencyclidine, or PCP, also known as angel dust, was found in Prude’s blood. According to experts, the drug can induce schizophrenia and wildly erratic, violent behavior. The autopsy report ruled Daniel Prude’s death as a homicide, and the first cause it cited was –
complications of asphyxia in the setting of physical restraint”
The other autopsy report also cited other contributing factors including –
excited delirium and acute intoxication by phencyclidine, or PCP”
The presence of PCP in his blood was also supported by his sister who suspected Prude had unknowingly smoked a joint laced with PCP at a party he attended just before his erratic behavior began in Chicago, and because of this, she sent him to visit his older brother in Rochester, New York after he began to act out in Chicago.
Release of Video Footage
Although Daniel Prude died almost two months before the death of George Floyd, the incident of his killing first received attention in September after a video footage of the incident was released. On August 20, 2020, following an open records request, the city gave a total of 88 minutes of police body camera footage of the incident to the family’s lawyer. In the video, there is no footage of Prude offering any physical resistance to the half-dozen or so officers who converged on the scene. Although there is a gap of a few seconds in the video, there’s an entire 11-minutes video showing the interaction between Prude and the police. In the video, officers stood in a semicircle around handcuffed Prude as he sat in the middle of Jefferson Avenue. At one point, Prude can be heard yelling,
Gimme that gun. Gimme that gun, I mean it!”
Later, the officers pushed him over and held him down so he could not move. An officer identified in the video as Mark Vaughn can be spotted using both hands to push the side of Prude’s head into the pavement. Another officer, identified as Troy Tallada, can be seen in the video using his knee at one point to hold down Prude’s torso, and a third officer held down his legs. In the video, Prude’s body movement slowly fades away, and eventually, he falls silent.
Soon after the release of the video footage of Daniel Prude’s arrest by the police officers, a massive protest took place outside the Rochester police headquarters on September 2, 2020, which was followed by a series of protests across various cities in the United States. Daniel Prude’s family condemned the police action while dealing with Prude’s erratic behavior. While mentioning Daniel Prude in a court document, his older brother, Joe Prude wrote,
we had a close relationship. We frequently visited each other and spoke on the telephone. We shared the most intimate parts of our lives with each other.”
While calling Daniel’s death “a cold-blooded murder,” Joe Prude said,
I placed a phone call for my brother to get help, not to get lynched. How many brothers have to die for society to understand this has to stop?”
In a statement made on September 2, 2020, New York Attorney General Letitia James said,
The death of Daniel Prude was a tragedy, and I extend my deepest condolences to his family. I share the community’s concerns about ensuring a fair and independent investigation into his death and support their right to protest. As with every investigation, we will follow the facts of this case and ensure a complete and thorough examination of all relevant parties. We will work tirelessly to provide the transparency and accountability that all our communities deserve.”