Daniel Prude: Rochester officials intentionally delayed the release of body cam video


The paperwork additionally embrace different examples of potential makes an attempt by police and metropolis officials to manage the narrative round Prude’s demise in custody.

A Prude household legal professional’s request for body digital camera footage set into movement an effort by metropolis and police officials to slow-walk the release of the tape, which exhibits officers kneeling on and restraining Prude.

Elliot Shields, an legal professional retained by Prude’s brother, filed a Freedom of Information Law request for the footage on April 3. The footage was not launched till August 12.

The paperwork present that, following that e mail, metropolis attorneys spoke with Rochester police officials and in addition an legal professional in New York’s Attorney General’s workplace in an effort to disclaim or delay the request.

“I’m wondering if we shouldn’t hold back on this for a little while considering what is going on around the country,” one police official wrote in an e mail to a metropolis legal professional on June 4. Among these concerned in the dialog embrace then-Chief La’Ron Singletary and present appearing Chief Mark Simmons.

“We certainly do not want people to misinterpret the officers’ actions and conflate this incident with any recent killings of unarmed black men by law enforcement nationally,” Simmons wrote. “I ask that we reach out to Corporation Council and ask them to deny the request based on the fact that the case is still active, as it is currently being investigated for possible criminal charges to be brought forth by the AG’s office.”

“I totally agree,” Singletary responded.

The footage, launched to the public two weeks in the past, shows officers handcuff a naked Prude and cover his head with a “spit sock” after he claimed he had coronavirus and was spitting. The officers maintain him and push him to the floor in a susceptible place, the video exhibits.

Prude stopped respiration and was declared brain-dead at a hospital, the place he died every week later, on March 30.

The Monroe County Medical Examiner in the end dominated Prude’s demise a murder, citing issues of asphyxia in the setting of bodily restraint. The report additionally cites excited delirium and acute PCP intoxication as contributing elements to the quick trigger of demise.

Accusations of cover-up

The release of that footage to the public two weeks in the past has led to protests in Rochester and accusations of a cover-up. On Monday, the similar day the metropolis launched the paperwork, Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren pushed out the police chief ahead of his retirement and suspended two different metropolis staff.

“This initial look has shown what so many have suspected, that we have a pervasive problem in the Rochester Police Department,” Warren stated in a information release. “One that views everything through the eyes of the badge and not the citizens we serve. It shows that Mr. Prude’s death was not taken as seriously as it should have been by those who reviewed the case throughout City government at every level.”

In a press release final week asserting his retirement, Singletary stated the public was misinformed about what he did.

“The members of the Rochester Police Department and the Greater Rochester Community know my reputation and know what I stand for,” Singletary stated. “The mischaracterization and the politicization of the actions that I took after being informed of Mr. Prude’s death is not based on facts, and is not what I stand for.”

Last week, Prude’s sister filed swimsuit in federal court docket towards Singletary, 13 different officers and the upstate New York metropolis, claiming partially a division cover-up of the demise. Neither Singletary nor the metropolis responded to requests for remark about the litigation.

Simmons, the appearing chief, didn’t reply to CNN’s request for remark Wednesday.

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New York’s Freedom of Information Law permits state companies to withhold paperwork when their disclosure would intrude with an ongoing investigation or compromise a confidential informant.

Shields, the household legal professional, was capable of view the police footage at the Attorney General’s workplace in mid-July however was not supplied a duplicate.

In a June Three e mail between Rochester Police Lt. Michael Perkowski and Rochester metropolis legal professional Stephanie Price, Perkowski stated that an legal professional at the AG’s workplace “may be able to assist by allowing the plaintiff’s attorney to view the Body Worn Camera footage without releasing it, to buy some more time before we have to release this.”

On Wednesday, New York Attorney General Letitia James’s workplace issued CNN a press release defending her workplace.

“At no point over the course of this investigation did any member of the Attorney General’s Office instruct the city of Rochester or the Rochester Police Department to withhold information of any kind, period.

“For weeks, the metropolis and the police division have engaged in a deeply troubling and deceptive marketing campaign in an try and cowl their tracks and shirk accountability, relatively than specializing in the actual drawback at hand. As we now have performed since April, our workplace will proceed to work tirelessly and with out distraction to supply the solutions that the Prude household and Rochester group deserve.”

‘Make him a suspect’

In an incident report filed by police officers, Daniel Prude's name is circled in red next to a handwritten note saying, "make him a suspect."

Additionally, the documents show at least two instances in which changes were made to reports that related to the incident that led to Prude’s death.

Two incident reports filed by police officers appear, in the documents released by the city, to have been edited with red pencil. It is unclear who made these handwritten notes or when they were in fact made. In one incident report filed by Officer Mark Vaughn, among many edits, some prosaic, Prude’s name is written in the space labeled “Victim.”

Prude’s name is circled in red, next to a large, handwritten note: “Make him a suspect.”

A similar note is appended to a report by Officer Paul Ricotta, who responded to a burglary alarm at 3:10 a.m.

“List Daniel Prude as [Suspect],” it reads in red pencil. “Add housebreaking — video recorded throughout the day exhibits [suspect] break window & enter location.”

Body cam footage from Prude’s arrest include officers speculating if Prude (described as “Mr. PCP”) might be the person responsible for a broken window at a T-Mobile store. The original report had listed the suspect as “unknown.”

Rochester Police Union President Mike Mazzeo told CNN on Wednesday he doesn’t know who penned the handwritten revisions on the police reports but said it’s standard practice to make revisions to reports before they’re finalized. He pointed out that the reports in question do not have a supervisor’s sign-off on them.

An undated follow-up report on the incident from Rochester’s Major Crimes Unit states that “a number of stories have been rejected for revisions,” but does not clarify which reports, nor what revisions.

Attempt to speak with Medical Examiner’s office

Further, the documents reveal an email exchange following Prude’s death at Strong Memorial Hospital in which Lt. Perkowski sought to speak with the Medical Examiner’s office prior to Prude’s autopsy.

“I think about your workplace will likely be doing the post-mortem,” Perkowski wrote to Julie Luedke, the Confidential Assistant to the Monroe County Medical Examiner on March 31. “Can you and I’ve a dialog earlier than you begin that?”

“It is considerably delicate, as he was in police custody when he was despatched to the hospital,” Perkowski continued. “I used to be on scene and have all of the particulars for you.”

In response, Luedke asked for the relevant incident reports, which Perkowski said were on their way. He then again said he had “background data” and offered to come meet with the Medical Examiner. Luedke responded by saying she would call Perkowski.

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The Monroe County Medical Examiner in the end dominated Prude’s demise a murder. CNN has reached out to the Medical Examiner’s workplace for remark.

Mazzeo, the police union president, stated this was seemingly an ordinary interplay.

“A medical expert has to have the data and set rather a lot of data based mostly on the context of what occurred,” he said.

“I did not see any of these emails till they had been launched. But I’m telling you that the medical expert at all times desires that sort of data and main crimes works hand in hand with the ME’s workplace on any murder or any investigation.”

Mazzeo said the union will provide representation for officers involved in the case, and he plans to announce the names of those attorneys as soon as Friday.

He also acknowledged the missteps among police and city leadership.

“I’m shocked, and I’ve no purpose why they dealt with this in that method. And apparently the chief has paid the value for it, however I are inclined to consider that there is means too many fall guys right here. And we’re probably not attending to the root of the drawback,” he said.

“Why would any of us wish to reside by means of what we’re dwelling by means of now? You know, the public’s belief is essential, and it is very troublesome in police work in any case. Why make silly errors or deal with issues this fashion. It is unnecessary. And management must be referred to as into query on this.”

CNN’s Eric Levenson contributed to this report.



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