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City Council votes to urge city administration to fire Prude officers 

Daniel Prude's brother, Joe Prude, outside City Hall on Wednesday, Sept. 2, 2020, to announce plans to sue the city over Prude's death.

PHOTO BY MAX SCHULTE

Daniel Prude's brother, Joe Prude, outside City Hall on Wednesday, Sept. 2, 2020, to announce plans to sue the city over Prude's death.

The Rochester City Council has passed a resolution urging the city administration and Rochester Police Chief Cynthia Herriott-Sullivan to consider firing the officers involved in Daniel Prude's death.

The resolution, approved by an eight-to-one vote Tuesday evening, states that though Attorney General Letitia James's grand jury investigation declined to pursue criminal charges, the officers are still liable for discipline. While an internal investigation did begin following Prude's death, it has yet to conclude, and was effectively paused as the city awaited the findings of the criminal investigation, the resolution states.

Council President Loretta Scott and members Willie Lightfoot, Malik Evans, Mitch Gruber, LaShay Harris, Mary Lupien, Miguel Meléndez, and Michael Patterson all voted in favor of the measure. Jose Peo was the sole member of Council to vote no on the resolution.

"The Council of the city of Rochester believes that the residents of this city have a right to see a conclusion to this matter and to see justice served," the resolution reads.

The resolution urges the city administration to "immediately and expeditiously" complete the internal investigation. The Council requests the administration to provide a timeline of the probe, and, when a decision is reached, to provide a written statement explaining the conclusion, particularly whether termination was or was not chosen.

City Council has no actual power to compel any discipline. The resolution is effectively a petition urging action by the chief and administration.
click to enlarge A screenshot of police body camera footage of the arrest of Daniel Prude. Prude had been released from Strong Memorial Hospital only hours early after a mental health evaluation.
  • A screenshot of police body camera footage of the arrest of Daniel Prude. Prude had been released from Strong Memorial Hospital only hours early after a mental health evaluation.

In the early morning hours of March 23, 2020, a naked and erratic Prude, in the midst of a mental health crisis, first made contact with the Rochester Police Department on Jefferson Avenue. Prude initially complied with the officer's orders to lie stomach down on the road, but became agitated and attempted to stand up.

Three officers, Francisco Santiago, Mark Vaughn, and Troy Taladay, used a restraint technique known as "segmenting," in which each officer held down a portion of Prude's body—Vaughn held his head to the pavement, Santiago held his legs, and Taladay held down his torso.

During that restraint, Prude vomited and became unresponsive. He ultimately died on March 30, 2020. The medical examiner's report concluded a cause of death as "asphyxia in the setting of physical restraint," but also noted  ”excited delirium due to acute phencyclidine intoxication,” indicating Prude's use of PCP as a factor in his death.

Gino Fanelli is a CITY staff writer. He can be reached at (585) 775-9692 or gino@rochester-citynews.com.
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