Prude Death Investigation

City Council president says Mayor Warren told her Prude’s death was an overdose after mayor saw video

Daniel Prude

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — Mayor Lovely Warren says she didn’t know the Daniel Prude case involved anything other than a drug overdose until she saw the body camera footage on August 4.

She’s been under fire for failing to let the community know after that. News of Prude’s death first became public when his family released police worn body camera footage on September 2.

Wednesday on WXXI Connections, City Council President Loretta Scott said that on August 20, Mayor Warren told her about Prude’s death — but only mentioned the drug overdose.

MORE | Mayor Lovely Warren: RPD Chief told me Daniel Prude died from an apparent drug overdose

All of this brought about response from City Hall. It was within two days of seeing the video in early August, the mayor fully briefed Scott about the matter — and Scott never requested to see the video.

This is what Director of Communications for the City of Rochester, Justin Roj said in a statement in response to Scott’s appearance on WXXI:

“Within 48 hours of Mayor Warren seeing the video regarding the death of Mr. Prude, she fully briefed President Scott regarding the incident, including the family’s notice of claim, the Medical Examiner’s findings and the Attorney General’s investigation.

Since the City of Rochester implemented body-worn cameras for its officers in 2016, City Councilmembers have requested and reviewed video of physical altercations involving our officers on numerous occasions.

At no time, after being briefed in full by the Mayor, did President Scott request to see the video of Mr. Prude’s death.”

More | Daniel Prude timeline: From March encounter with police to current protests in Rochester

Here’s what Scott had to say in response to Roj’s statement:

“The first time I heard the name Daniel Prude and learned of the officer involvement in his death was the morning of September 2, 2020, when the family of Mr. Prude held a press conference.

The first time I saw the footage of Mr. Prude’s arrest on March 23, 2020, was when this video was released to the media and made available to the public.

What I recall from my conversation with the Mayor is that she shared that a lawsuit had been filed against the City by the family of a man who died in the hospital under police custody. I was told the individual was high on PCP and had died of an overdose. At no point was I told that there was use of force by officers and there was no mention of having seen a disturbing video. At the conclusion of this conversation, the Mayor asked that this information be held in confidence for the time being as the matter was in the hands of the Attorney General. 

Today on WXXI’s Connections, I made an estimate of the date as August 20th, I have since checked my phone records, and feel confident that this call would have happened on either August 6th or August 8th. It is not an uncommon occurrence for me to have quick conversations with the Mayor that detail numerous pieces of information.

Had I been told about a gruesome video or the use of force by officers, I certainly would have insisted to see the video myself, as Council has done in the past. I would have involved the Vice President who Chairs the Public Safety Committee and would have asked that the Council be briefed; the Mayor and I have very different recollections of that phone call.

There is still much to be learned on this topic, and we will continue to pursue an independent investigation into this matter.

MORE | WATCH: Footage of encounter between Daniel Prude and Rochester police officers before his death

Prude, a 41-year-old Black man from Chicago, died after an encounter with Rochester police back in March, but news of the incident just came to light Wednesday, and now the case is being investigated by the New York State Attorney General’s Office.

The autopsy report from the Monroe County Medical Examiner’s Office ruled the death of Prude a homicide. The report says Prude’s cause of death includes “complications of asphyxia in the setting of physical restraint.” The report also showed that Prude also had a small amount of PCP in his system at the time of his death, which could explain his erratic behavior.

Seven Rochester police officers have been suspended with pay in connection to the incident: Officers Mark Vaughn, Troy Taladay, Paul Ricotta, Francisco Santiago, Andrew Specksgoor, Josiah Harris, and Sgt. Michael Magri.

A federal civil lawsuit filed from the Prude family against the City of Rochester alleges there was an internal cover-up. Police Chief La’Ron Singletary, and other command staff within the department, have since announced their retirements.

Protests have been ongoing in Rochester since the news broke Wednesday. This page will serve to document those protests.

This is an ongoing story. News 8 will provide updates as they become available.

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