Protesters arrested outside of police union after attorneys defend officers in Daniel Prude's death

UniqueThis 10 Oct 1

By Zoe Christen Jones

/ CBS News

Several protesters were arrested outside the Rochester police union's headquarters on Thursday, following a press conference from the attorneys of the officers involved in Daniel Prude's death. Prude was a 31-year-old Black man who died in police custody in March after being restrained during a mental health crisis. 

According to CBS affiliate WROC, several protesters were detained, although the exact number has yet to be announced. While video showed a 14-year-old girl being taken into custody, no names of protesters or the reasons for the arrests have been released. 

We’re hearing Ashley Gantt was arrested outside the Locust Club. Members of Free the People ROC are outside asking officers why they arrested her @News_8 pic.twitter.com/SuEPV2oG8i

— Kayla Green (@KaylaGreen04) October 1, 2020

During the press conference, the attorneys of the officers involved in Prude's death defended their use of force, saying they used proper protocols and procedures. Seven officers were involved in Prude's detainment and eventual death: officers Mark Vaughn, Troy Taladay, Paul Ricotta, Francisco Santiago, Andrew Specksgoor, Josiah Harris, and Sergeant Michael Magri. All seven officers were suspended with pay after video of the arrest was made public.

"There's no question it's a tragic situation for Mr. Prude's family, and there may need to be conversations about training and mental health intervention, but these officers did exactly what they were trained to do and they did it flawlessly," said attorney James Nobles, who is representing officer Vaughn.

Stanley Martin, an organizer with Free The People Roc, disagreed with the defense of the officers. "I think it shows how deeply grounded policing is within white supremacy," Martin said Thursday, according to WROC. "To justify, in any capacity, is racist and it shows the police department cannot be reformed, they need to be dismantled and public safety needs to be grounded in caring people and protecting people."

Prude's death made waves in September when his family released body camera footage from the night of his arrest. While visiting Rochester to see family, Prude had a mental health crisis. After being placed on a mental hold at a local hospital, he was released, only to flee his family's care later. Emergency services were called when Prude was reported walking down the street, naked and confused. The footage obtained by Prude's family begins at 3:15 a.m., and shows Prude still naked, kneeling in the street. 

After being handcuffed by officers, Prude was placed in a "spit sock" — a hood to shield officers from saliva— and then pushed onto the ground. Prude was held in that position for at least three minutes before emergency services directed an officer to perform CPR. Prude died in the hospital seven days later. The medical examiner ruled his death a homicide due to "complications of asphyxia," "excited delirium" and PCP intoxication.

While his restraint took place on March 23, it took 162 days for the public to see how Prude died. Mayor Lovely Warren later fired Police Chief La'Ron Singletary before his retirement date, eventually replacing him with Cynthia Herriott-Sullivan as the interim police chief. "Mr. Daniel Prude was failed by our police department, our mental health care system, our society, and he was failed by me," Warren said in early September.

First published on October 1, 2020 / 2:37 PM

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