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“I placed a phone call for my brother to get help. Not for my brother to get lynched,” Daniel Prude's brother Joe said at a press conference

By Benjamin VanHoose
September 03, 2020 09:51 AM
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Police put hood on Black man killed by asphyxiation
Credit: Associated Press/Youtube

Newly-released video captures the March arrest of a Black man who died of asphyxiation after police placed a so-called "spit-hood" over his head and held his head to the ground.

On Monday, March 30, 41-year-old Daniel Prude was taken off life support and died, one week after the March 23 encounter police in Rochester, New York, reports The New York Times.

Prude, who had been running in the streets nude at the time of his arrest, told the group of police officers, "Take this s--- off my face, you're trying to kill me," as heard in body cam footage, first reported by the Democrat & Chronicle.

The Times reports Prude's brother called police that day seeking help after his brother left in an erratic mental state. Prude had been hospitalized the day before with apparent mental health problems, The Times reports.

“I placed a phone call for my brother to get help. Not for my brother to get lynched,” Joe Prude, Daniel's brother, said at a Wednesday press conference, according to the Associated Press. “How did you see him and not directly say, ‘The man is defenseless, buck naked on the ground. He’s cuffed up already. Come on.’ How many more brothers gotta die for society to understand that this needs to stop?”

The AP reports that the hood placed over his head was a "spit hood," which law enforcement officers use to shield themselves from saliva. Police said Prude told officers he was infected with the coronavirus.

The video shows officers telling Prude to “stop spitting” and to “calm down.”

The video also shows officers restraining Prude and holding his head to the ground. When he becomes still during the detainment, an officer asks, “You good, man?” When they notice he vomited water, a paramedic performs CPR and he is then placed in an ambulance.

A spokesperson for the Rochester Police Department did not immediately respond to PEOPLE's request for comment.

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The Times reports the Monroe County Medical Examiner's office ruled Prude's death a homicide caused by "complications of asphyxia in the setting of physical restraint."

The AP reports that at the family's press conference on Wednesday, Ashley Gantt of Free the People ROC, a criminal justice reform group, said Prude's death shows that police "are not equipped to handle individuals with mental health concerns."

Added Gantt: “These officers are trained to kill, and not to deescalate. These officers are trained to ridicule, instead of supporting Mr. Daniel Prude.”

The office of New York Attorney General Letitia James is investigating the death.

Rochester Police Chief La’Ron D. Singletary and other officials spoke at a different news conference, explaining the delay in sharing the footage with the public more than five months later. “I know that there is a rhetoric that is out there that this is a cover-up. This is not a cover-up,” said Singletary, per the Times.

“I want everyone to understand that at no point in time did we feel that this was something that we wanted not to disclose,” the city's Mayor Lovely Warren said, according to the AP, which reports that dozens of protesters gathered in response to the publicized police killing. “We are precluded from getting involved in it until that agency has completed their investigation.”

James issued a statement on Wednesday calling Prude's death a "tragedy."

“I share the community’s concerns about ensuring a fair and independent investigation into his death and support their right to protest," said James. "... 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.”

Prude's aunt Letoria Moore remembered her nephew, according to the AP, as a "bright, loving person" who was "family-oriented [and] always there for us when we needed him." She said, “I didn’t know what was the situation, why he was going through what he was going through that night, but I know he didn’t deserve to be killed by the police.”