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Council members to urge RPD chief, city to consider firing 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.

Rochester City Council is set to vote on a resolution recommending that the city administration and Police Chief Cynthia Herriott-Sullivan consider firing the officers responsible for the death of Daniel Prude almost one year ago.

The proposed resolution was introduced Thursday afternoon and approved by a City Council committee later in the day on an 8 to 1 vote. It will be considered during Council’s regular meeting on Tuesday.

Voting in favor of moving the measure out of committee were the eight members who signed on to it: Council President Loretta Scott and members Willie Lightfoot, Malik Evans, Mitch Gruber, LaShay Harris, Mary Lupien, Miguel Meléndez, and Michael Patterson. Council member Jose Peo was the sole vote against the proposal.

The resolution noted that “internal disciplinary charges were commenced but not concluded” against unspecified officers “with the explanation being given that the Rochester Police Department was awaiting the outcome of the criminal charges.”

State Attorney General Letitia James announced last month that the grand jury she empaneled as part of her investigation of Prude’s death cleared Rochester police officers of criminal charges in the incident. James wouldn’t say what charges her office sought or against which officers she pursued them.

The proposed resolution stated that City Council had been advised by its legal counsel that “failure to indict the officers” does not preclude disciplinary action against them and later demanded that the administration and chief “immediately and expeditiously” conclude the disciplinary actions against the officers.

“It is the recommendation of the Council of the City of Rochester that the disciplinary penalty of termination be considered and that the City Administration and Police Chief provide in writing the anticipated timeline for conclusion of the charges for each of the officers involved in this incident,” read the resolution.

It continued on to state that the City Council expects the administration and chief, once they reach a conclusion regarding the disciplinary penalty for each officer in question, to provide it with “an immediate written report of that conclusion and, if the conclusion is not termination, an explanation as to why termination was not chosen.”
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.

Prude was naked, unarmed, and in the midst of a mental health crisis when police encountered him standing in the middle of Jefferson Avenue on March 23, 2020. Prude complied with an officer’s orders to lie down and the officer then cuffed him. But after he became agitated and tried to get up, three officers—Francisco Santiago, Mark Vaughn, and Troy Taladay— restrained him under the weight of their bodies.

While he was restrained, Prude lost consciousness and stopped breathing. He was taken by ambulance to Strong Memorial Hospital, where he died on March 30.

An autopsy report from the Monroe County Medical Examiner’s Office listed the primary cause of Prude’s death as “complications of asphyxia in the setting of physical restraint” but also listed ”excited delirium due to acute phencyclidine intoxication,” an indication that Prude might have been high on PCP, as a contributing factor.

Jeremy Moule is CITY’s news editor. He can be reached at jmoule@rochester-citynews.com. Gino Fanelli is a CITY staff writer. He can be reached at gino@rochester-citynews.com.
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