International

Daniel Prude death: Police chief resigns as protests continue

Rochester Police Chief, La'Ron Singletary speaks during a news conference regarding the protests over the death of a Black man, Daniel Prude, after police put a spit hood over his head during an arrest on March 23, in Rochester, New York, U.S. September 6, 2020.   | Photo Credit: REUTERS

The police chief in the U.S. city of Rochester resigned Tuesday, following days of protest over the death of a black man whom police had hooded and forced face-down on a road.

The arrest of Daniel Prude took place in March, but his family and activists made his death public last Wednesday, after receiving body cam footage through an open records request.

When officers arrived, the 41-year-old Prude — who was suffering from a psychotic episode at the time — was unarmed and naked in the road, according to the video.

Police ordered an initially compliant Prude to get on the ground, but after being handcuffed he became increasingly agitated.

Officers then put a "spit hood" on him, because he said he had contracted the coronavirus, and forced his head to the pavement. Moments later he lost consciousness. He died in a hospital a week later, when life support was switched off.

The seven officers present were all suspended and an investigation into the event is under way by New York state Attorney General Letitia James.

A makeshift memorial is seen as demonstrators protest over the death of a Black man, Daniel Prude, after police put a spit hood over his head during an arrest on March 23, in Rochester, New York, U.S. September 6, 2020.

A makeshift memorial is seen as demonstrators protest over the death of a Black man, Daniel Prude, after police put a spit hood over his head during an arrest on March 23, in Rochester, New York, U.S. September 6, 2020.   | Photo Credit: REUTERS

In a statement, Rochester police chief La'Ron Singletary said the accusations about his lack of initiative in the matter and alleged attempts to cover up the case were a "mischaracterisation" and slammed the "politicisation" of his actions.

"As a man of integrity, I will not sit idly by while outside entities attempt to destroy my character," said Singletary.

Singletary, 40, was named as police chief of Rochester in April 2019. He spent 20 years on the city's police force before retiring Tuesday.

Attorney General James announced Saturday she would form a grand jury to probe Prude's death, a preliminary step to a possible indictment.

Local media said an autopsy ruled the death a homicide caused by "complications of asphyxia in the setting of physical restraint." The report also listed a low level of the drug PCP in Prude's blood.

A demonstrator holds up a "Black Lives Matter" sign during a protest over the death of a Black man, Daniel Prude, after police put a spit hood over his head during an arrest on March 23, in Rochester, New York, U.S. September 6, 2020.

A demonstrator holds up a "Black Lives Matter" sign during a protest over the death of a Black man, Daniel Prude, after police put a spit hood over his head during an arrest on March 23, in Rochester, New York, U.S. September 6, 2020.   | Photo Credit: REUTERS

The revelation of Prude's death sparked protests in Rochester and New York city demanding justice for the victim and reforms in the Rochester police department.

Prude's death has grim echoes of those of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, also black Americans who died in police incidents and whose deaths unleashed a wave of anti-racism demonstrations that have rocked the U.S. since May.

This article is closed for comments.
Please Email the Editor

Printable version | Oct 22, 2020 2:52:54 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/international/daniel-prude-death-police-chief-resigns-as-protests-continue/article32558325.ece

Next Story