Below is the letter we will send to Rochester city officials and NY Attorney General James:
Demand Justice For Daniel Prude
----- UPDATE: 9/08/20 -----
Rochester's police chief and deputy police chief have announced their resignations, citing continued outrage over the death of Daniel Prude. Yet none of the cops who murdered Daniel Prude on video have been charged, and nothing has been done to make sure what happened to him never happens again. We have to keep fighting.
----- UPDATE: 9/03/20 -----
On Sept. 3, Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren suspended 7 police officers involved in the murder of Daniel Prude.
A suspension more than 5 months later isn't enough. Daniel Prude and his family deserve justice now. Add your name to demand the officers who murdered Daniel Prude — Mark Vaughn, Troy Taladay, and Francisco Santiago — are fired, charged, and arrested.
Daniel Prude needed care and should be alive. Instead, newly released bodycam footage shows his brutal murder at the hands of Rochester Police.
Here's what we know:
On March 22, Daniel Prude arrived in Rochester, New York to visit his brother. When Daniel began acting strangely and threatened to harm himself, his brother, Joe, called the police for help. Daniel was taken to the hospital and released hours later — and in the early morning hours of March 23, Daniel bolted out the back door and into the cold, snowy street.
Joe called the police again. He explained that Daniel was experiencing a mental health crisis, that he was naked in the street, and that his brother was only a danger to himself. Joe begged the responding police officers not to kill his brother. They didn't listen.
Body camera footage released by Daniel's family and Free The People Roc shows Officer Mark Vaughn threatening Daniel with a taser and telling him to get on the ground with his hands behind his back. Prude immediately complies and is handcuffed without incident. At least five Rochester police officers stand over Prude, who is lying on the cold, wet ground with his hands bound.
The footage shows Daniel — who is clearly experiencing a mental health crisis — complying with the police. That didn't save him. Instead of helping him or calming him down, police officers mocked Daniel. And what the bodycam shows next is nothing short of a public lynching.
Officer Vaughn pulls a "spit hood" out of his pocket and puts it over Daniel's head. Then, Vaughn pushes his face into the ground and another officer, Troy Taladay, kneels on Daniel's back. He repeatedly asks the officers to get off of him.
The police officers don't listen. They knelt on his back and pushed his face to the ground for so long that he stopped breathing — just like how officers in Minneapolis murdered George Floyd in the street.
By the time emergency medical technicians arrive in an ambulance, Daniel Prude had stopped moving. The EMTs perform CPR, and the officers uncuff Prude and get him onto a gurney. At this point, Daniel Prude is brain dead from oxygen deprivation. His family decided to take him off life support one week later. And although Daniel's death was ruled a homicide by asphyxia due to "physical restraint," not one Rochester police officer responsible for Prude’s murder has been punished or fired.
Daniel needed care — not handcuffs, not shame, and definitely not a public execution. The police officers didn’t offer Daniel a blanket or help him get off the ground. They didn’t ask if he was cold or what was wrong. They didn’t try to calm Daniel down until trained medical responders arrived on the scene. They offered Daniel Prude no compassion, or even humane treatment. Instead, they mocked him and murdered him in the street.
Daniel's tragic story is EXACTLY what we mean when we say "defund the police." Police are not equipped to respond to mental health crises. Trained medical professionals should respond to mental health crises, not armed officers. We are seeing cities rely on untrained and violent police officers to respond to health emergencies, mental health crises, minor disputes, and people who are unhoused and just trying to survive. We are seeing Black people becoming victims of police brutality through no fault of their own. We are seeing people being murdered when they need care.
What's worse are the cases that we DON'T see. We would have never known about this story — a tragedy that took place four months ago — without organizers in Rochester sounding the alarm. For every video of police brutality, there are countless incidents that were never filmed. There are countless stories that we will never hear, names that we will never know.
But what we do know — and what the police shooting of Jacob Blake and the brutal, videotaped murders of George Floyd and Daniel Prude make crystal clear — is that police are NOT equipped to keep Black, Brown, and Indigenous people safe.
Daniel Prude was at the lowest point in his life. The last people who should be responding to a mental health crisis are racist police officers with guns and tasers. We must do everything in our power to ensure that what happened to Daniel Prude never happens to anyone in this country again.
To break this cycle of violence, we also demand that the city of Rochester change its procedures around mental health crisis calls: Trained medical and mental health professionals — not cops — should respond to medical calls.
Daniel Prude deserved care. Instead, he was murdered by police.
Daniel deserves justice. His family deserves justice.
Stand with us to demand that the officers who brutally murdered Daniel Prude are charged and arrested. Add your name to demand that Rochester requires trained medical and mental health professionals as first responders to medical calls.
Here is the Petition:
Daniel Prude was a 41-year-old Black man who was killed by Rochester Police in March. He was experiencing a mental health crisis, yet newly-released bodycam footage shows responding police officers mocking him, handcuffing him, putting a hood over his head, and pinning Daniel down until he was brain dead. The bodycam footage shows Daniel complying with officers' demands before his brutal murder by Officers Mark Vaughn, Troy Taladay, and Francisco Santiago.
None of these officers have been fired or charged for torturing and murdering Daniel Prude in the street.
You have an ethical obligation to address police misconduct and abuse of power, and we are calling on you to hold these Rochester cops accountable by filing charges against them.
What happened to Daniel should never happen to anyone else again. Resignations and suspensions aren't enough. The Mayor and City Council must pass legislation that requires trained medical/mental health professionals as first responders to medical calls. Police are not equipped to respond to mental health crises. Trained medical and mental health professionals — not cops — should respond to medical calls.