On March 23, 2020, a black man was fatally injured by police officers as they physically restrained him. Daniel had been suffering from a mental health episode after ingesting PCP and was seen running naked in the city’s streets. It is believed that police offices put a spit hood on his head after he began spitting. The officers held him face down on the pavement for close to two minutes, fifteen seconds. Daniel stopped breathing. Daniel Prude was given some CPR while still on the scene. He later succumbed to complications from asphyxia. He was taken off the life support several days later.
Cause of Death is Homicide
The autopsy carried out on his body ruled Daniel’s death as a homicide. It also included some contributing factors to his death, such as acute intoxication by phencyclidine (PCP). The Killing of Daniel Prude first caught people’s attention in September 2020 after the police body camera footage of the incident was released along with the autopsy report.
Following the report’s release, protesters demonstrated outside the Rochester police headquarters. Many concluded that Daniel’s death was related to his race. The protests they had were connected to those of the Black Lives Matter movement. Daniel Prude’s death joined a rising string of racial unrest cases in 2020.
Daniel had gone to visit his brother Joe Prude in Rochester, New York, from Chicago on March 22, 2020. Upon his arrival, Daniel acted erratically. He jumped headfirst down a flight of stairs. This caused his brother, Joe, to dial the emergency number to seek help. Daniel received a mental health evaluation at the Strong Memorial Hospital and was later discharged at night.
A Return to Erratic Behavior
After a few hours, Daniel started his erratic behaviors again. He ran from his brother’s house at around 3 am. His brother called 911 for assistance. Daniel shed his underwear, top, and socks while out in the street. This caused a passerby to record a live video of him. Prude is seen running away.
At around 3.16 am, several officers from RPD arrived on the scene. They were with two medical professionals and all found Prude naked and bleeding. One officer exited the car and walked towards Daniel with a taser. The officer ordered Prude to get on the ground, and Daniel Prude complied. During the arrest, he said, “Yes sir,” several times. He also repeatedly said, “In Jesus Christ, I pray.’’
How Daniel Died
At around 3.19 am, Daniel became hostile and started spitting at the officers and yelling,” Give me that gun.” One officer placed a spit hood over his head. Daniel ordered them to remove it, but they didn’t. The police officers used their body weight and hands to press Daniel on the pavement. He was face down, underneath the officers for two minutes and 15 seconds.
The Post Homicide Response
After this, one of the emergency medical technicians asked the police to turn Daniel Prude on his back. Once rolled over the tech informed them that Prude was unresponsive. He later instructed the officer to perform some CPR on Daniel, which he immediately did.
At around 3.27 am, Daniel was placed in the ambulance, and as he was being taken to Strong Memorial Hospital, his heartbeat resumed. Still, he remained incapacitated due to a lack of oxygen and was later declared brain dead. After a week since his arrest, he was taken off the life support machine on March 30.
Background On Spit Hoods and Restraint
The use of a spit hood is banned in many jurisdictions for this very reason. If a struggle ensues, and the wearer is held down for any length of time, breathing is impossible. There are many deescalating techniques, where the resisting party is laid on their back. This technique works in many institutional settings, as the resisting party is held on each side and legs. There is no need to create a pile, while the struggling party is face down.