Police Failure With Mental Illness: The Case of Daniel Prude

Daniel Prude's case moves to the grand jury.

In this image taken from police body camera video provided by Roth and Roth LLP, a Rochester police officer puts a hood over the head of Daniel Prude, on March 23, 2020, in Rochester, N.Y. Video of 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, Sept. 2, 2020, by his family. Prude died March 30 after he was taken off life support, seven days after the encounter with police in Rochester. (Rochester Police via Roth and Roth LLP via AP)

Lovely_WarrenOn March 23, 41 year old Daniel Prude was knelt on for two minutes. The man lost consciousness and died one week later. The reason? His brother had called the cops, worried about the mental stability of Daniel as he left the house with minimal clothing. The cops responded by handcuffing Daniel and placing a hoodie over his head while pressing him to the ground.

According to footage from officers’ cameras, Mr. Prude pleaded to be let up. He struggled to breath, and his words soon turned to gurgles and then stopped. When paramedics arrived two minutes later, Daniel had no heartbeat.

Mr. Prude was able to be revived and taken to a hospital, however this did not prevent his eventual passing.


The county medical examiner labeled Daniel’s death a “homicide caused by complications of asphyxiation in a prone position.” For months however, police in Rochester treated the case as a drug overdose after PCP was found in his bloodstream.

Daniel Prude’s death provides us with yet another example of police officers failing to respond appropriately to situations involving mental illness. 

“Americans with mental illnesses make up nearly a quarter of those killed by police officers,” Pete Earley wrote for The Washington Post. Meanwhile, “115 police officers have been killed since the 1970s by individuals with untreated serious mental illnesses.”

After the Prude family released a video of the incident, the Rochester mayor suspended seven officers.

New York attorney general, Letitia James, announced this past Saturday she plans to move ahead with a grand jury for the case.


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