7 officers suspended for causing death of handcuffed man in hood

“I failed to serve our community to fight injustice, to stand up to those in need, and ensure everyone has a fighting chance at life.”

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A makeshift memorial is seen, Wednesday, Sept. 2, 2020, in Rochester, N.Y., near the site where Daniel Prude was restrained by police officers. Prude, a Black man who had run naked through the streets of the western New York city, died of asphyxiation after a group of police officers put a hood over his head, then pressed his face into the pavement for two minutes, according to video and records released Wednesday by his family. Prude died March 30 after he was taken off life support, seven days after the encounter with police in Rochester. (AP Photo/Adrian Kraus)

Recorded on police body cam video smothering a handcuffed man wearing a spit hood for several minutes and eventually causing his death, seven New York police officers have been suspended with pay.

Shortly after 3 a.m. on March 23, Rochester police officers responded to a call concerning a naked man running down the street and shouting. According to police body cam footage, the officers ordered Daniel Prude to get on the ground with hands behind his back.

Prude complied with the orders and remained on the ground as his wrists were cuffed behind his back. He appeared to become agitated after the officers placed a spit hood over his head before attempting to rise from the ground.

Despite the fact that Prude was handcuffed and unarmed, the officers held him down for several minutes in the video. One of the cops tightened the spit hood while pressing down with both hands against Prude’s head until the restrained man stopped breathing.

Paramedics arrived on the scene and were able to resuscitate Prude in the ambulance while transporting him to the hospital. Prude never regained consciousness and died seven days later.

According to Prude’s autopsy report, the Monroe County medical examiner ruled his death a homicide caused by “complications of asphyxia in the setting of physical restraint.” Although the drug phencyclidine (PCP) was found in Prude’s toxicology report, drug intoxication was merely a contributing factor, and not the leading cause of his death.

On Thursday, Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren announced that the seven officers involved in Prude’s death have been suspended with pay. The suspended Rochester police officers include Officers Mark Vaughn, Troy Talladay, Paul Ricotta, Francisco Santiago, Andrew Specksgoor, Josiah Harris, and Sgt. Mark Magri.

“What I saw in that video was a man who needed help, a man who needed compassion, and a man who needed humanity, a man who we should have respected, and a man who was in crisis — our response to him was wrong,” Mayor Warren said during a press conference. “I failed to serve our community to fight injustice, to stand up to those in need, and ensure everyone has a fighting chance at life.”

“Last night, I watched the video of Daniel Prude’s death in Rochester,” New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said in a statement on Thursday. “What I saw was deeply disturbing and I demand answers.

“Under Executive Order 147, which I signed in 2015 after the death of Eric Garner, the Attorney General is investigating and I have full faith that she will complete a thorough review of the facts, get to the bottom of what happened and ensure that justice is served.

“For the sake of Mr. Prude’s family and the greater Rochester community I am calling for this case to be concluded as expeditiously as possible. For that to occur we need the full and timely cooperation of the Rochester Police Department and I trust it will fully comply.”

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