KEY POINTS

  • Daniel Prude’s brother called 911 after the former began experiencing mental health issues
  • Officers placed a white "spit hood" over Daniel’s head while detaining him
  • His family demanded murder charges be brought against officers

The family of a Black man is demanding the firing and arrest of officers who were seen in a video putting a hood over him while taking him into custody and slamming his head into the pavement for two minutes, causing his death.

Daniel Prude, 41, died in a hospital March 30, seven days after the encounter with police in Rochester, New York. He died after being taken off life support. Daniel’s family held a news conference Wednesday during which they released the police body camera video in question. The man's death has since garnered widespread attention. 

A medical examiner concluded Daniel’s death was a homicide caused by "complications of asphyxia in the setting of physical restraint," according to the Associated Press.

The victim’s brother, Joe Prude, called 911 on March 23 to report Daniel ran out of his home in an erratic state. He was taken to a hospital on the previous day after he began experiencing mental health problems, The New York Times reported, citing police records.

According to the publication, Daniel, who was visiting Joe from Chicago, left his brother’s home and ran through the street naked. He also reportedly tried to break into a car saying he had the coronavirus.  

"I placed a phone call for my brother to get help. Not for my brother to get lynched," Joe said at the news conference. "How did you see him and not directly say, 'The man is defenseless, buck naked on the ground. He’s cuffed up already.' Come on. How many more brothers gotta die for society to understand that this needs to stop?" Joe said Wednesday.

Joe claimed in the news conference Daniel stopped breathing after police knelt on him as they handcuffed him.

The city had withdrawn its investigation into Daniel's death in April after the case was handed over to the New York State Attorney General Letitia James’s office. Under the New York law, deaths of unarmed people in police custody are often turned over to the attorney general’s office as opposed to being handled by local officials, according to the Associated Press.

James said Wednesday the investigation into the matter is still on. Human rights activists demanded the officers involved in Daniel's death should be prosecuted on murder charges and must be removed from the department during the course of the investigation.

The disturbing video, made by compiling footages from multiple officers' body cameras, shows Daniel, naked in the middle of the street, complying with the officers' instruction to get on the ground and put his hand over his back. The man appeared agitated in the video, shouting as he sits on the pavement in handcuffs for a few minutes as it snows.

"Give me your gun, I need it," he tells the officers. Daniel reportedly made a remark about getting his money to take a plane at some point during the nearly 11-minute encounter with police. The arresting officers seemed to call him by his name in the video.

Three minutes into the video, one officer places a bag, a white "spit hood," typically used by cops to protect themselves against the detainee’s saliva during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, over Daniel’s head. Another officer, who is white, holds Daniel's head down against the pavement with both his hands, as a third officer kneels on his back.

Daniel, who made pleas for removing the hood, reportedly spat and vomited while officers tried to restrain him. The Emergency Medical Technician arrived at the spot and tried to resuscitate him, but to no avail.

Organizers from Free The People Roc, a group of Black Lives Matter activists, named three officers involved in the incident but they are yet to be identified publicly, according to CNN.