ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — A protest sparked outside the Public Safety Building in downtown Rochester Wednesday.
The demonstration follows the announcement of a New York State Attorney General investigation into the death of a Black man after an encounter with Rochester police officers.
Daniel Prude died in March of this year after an encounter with Rochester police. An autopsy report from the Monroe County Medical Examiner’s Office ruled his death a homicide.
The autopsy report says Prude’s cause of death includes “complications of asphyxia in the setting of physical restraint.”
Body camera footage of the incident surfaced Wednesday that showed the struggle before his death.
MORE | WATCH: Footage of encounter between Daniel Prude and Rochester police officers before his death
Editor’s note: A warning to viewers that some may find this video disturbing.
Following the demonstration at the Public Safety building, the protest moved to Jefferson Avenue where Prude was confronted by police in March.
Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren and Police Chief La’Ron Singletary announced Wednesday that the New York State Attorney General Letitia James’ Office was investigating the matter. During the mayor’s and chief’s announcement, several local activists were arrested after not being allowed in the Public Safety Building for the press conference.
“On March 23, 2020 the Rochester Police Department executed a Black man named Daniel Prude,” said local activist Stanley Martin, who was one of the activists arrested Wednesday.. “Mr. Prude was naked, defenseless, unarmed, and experiencing a mental health crisis.”
Activists say Prude was lying on the ground — naked, handcuffed, and unarmed — when police killed him on March 23. They say police put a bag over his Prude’s head and pushed it into the ground. They say less than 10 minutes later, Prude was unconscious. He was hospitalized, put on a ventilator, and then, according to the autopsy report, he was officially pronounced dead seven days later.
MORE | Autopsy report: Daniel Prude death ruled a homicide, died from asphyxia due to ‘physical restraint’
“I placed the phone call for my brother to get help, not for my brother to get lynched,” said Joe Prude, the brother of Daniel Prude. “When I say get lynched, that was full fledged, murder, cold-blooded — nothing other than cold-blooded murder. The man is defenseless, naked on the ground, cuffed up already. I mean come on, how many brothers got to die for society to understand that this needs to stop? You killed a defenseless black man, a father’s son, a brother’s brother, a nephews uncle.”
As a result of an executive order from Gov. Andrew Cuomo in July, New York State Attorney General Letitia James will investigate all cases where law enforcement officers are involved in the deaths of civilians.
MORE | Protesters arrested in downtown Rochester after activists barred from Mayor’s press conference
“Once Mr. Prude passed away, the Rochester Police Department turned the case over to the Attorney General’s office and since that time we have been waiting for the Attorney General’s office to make a determination on how this case is to proceed,” Mayor Warren said. “The reason why that is the case is because we want to make sure the investigation is fair, unbiased — something people have confidence in — and that the entity that is being investigated in not the entity that’s conducting the investigation.”
The chief echoed statements that his department is cooperating.
“This is not a cover up. There is no cover up whatsoever,” Chief Singletary said. “We’re going to take a look at this criminal investigation. The internal investigation looks at whether the officers violated policy and procedures of the Rochester Police Department. From day one we have been in conversation with the investigating authorities as such. Like the mayor said we don’t have a problem holding anyone accountable. At this particular point in time, that’s why I’m waiting for the investigation to unfold to determine what the next step will be.”
Attorney General James released a statement Wednesday about the investigation.
“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. Pursuant to Executive Order 147, the Special Investigations and Prosecutions Unit of my office is already actively investigating this incident. 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.”
A statement from Monroe County District Attorney’s Office Wednesday:
“On the afternoon of April 16, 2020, the cause of death of Daniel Prude was sent to the Monroe County District Attorney’s Office. Upon reviewing the cause of death of Mr. Prude, Monroe County District Attorney Sandra Doorley made the initial notification to Jennifer Sommers of the State of New York Office of the Attorney General for referral pursuant to Executive Order No. 147. The official letter of jurisdiction was sent to the Monroe County District Attorney’s Office from Jennifer Sommers on April 21, 2020. The entire Monroe County District Attorney’s Office offers their deepest condolences to the family of Daniel Prude.”
Check back with News 8 WROC as we will continue to update this developing story.