As demonstrations in Rochester, N.Y., continued into a fifth night over the police killing of Daniel Prude during a mental health episode, the city’s mayor promised police and mental health reforms.
"We had a human being in a need of help, in need of compassion," said Mayor Lovely Warren, at a Sunday (Sept. 7) press conference, according to PEOPLE. "In that moment, we had an opportunity to protect him, to keep him warm, to bring him to safety, to begin the process of healing him and lifting him up. We have to own the fact that in the moment, we did not do that."
Prude, 41, died after police officers in Rochester, N.Y., placed a hood over his head while taking him into custody, causing him to suffocate on March 23, records released by activists and his family say. Seven days prior, he had been visiting from Chicago when he ran out of the home of his brother, Joe while having a mental episode.
He had reportedly been running through the streets when police picked him up. He was placed in a spit hood and restrained by an officer who put his knee on Prude’s back. He was removed from life support and died March 30. A medical examiner ruled Prude’s death a homicide from “complications of asphyxia in the setting of physical restraint.”
His death was made public last week when his family released body camera footage showing the incident.
As a result of the police killing, Warren said that Rochester would increase the availability of mental health workers and take its family crisis intervention team away from the police department and move it and the funding behind it to the department of youth and recreation services, PEOPLE reported.
Demonstrations are expected to continue in Rochester and multiple clashes between police and protesters have been reported. Complaints have come from several people, including public officials, of police using chemical irritants against the growing crowds.
Several people are calling for Warren’s resignation and police chief La’Ron Singletary. Both have said they do not intend to step down, according to the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle. Meanwhile, Prude’s family is continuing its call for justice and says they don’t understand why their relative had to die.
“I placed a phone call for my brother to get help. Not for my brother to get lynched,” Joe Prude said at a press conference last week, the Associated Press reported. “ How many more brothers gotta die for society to understand that this needs to stop?”
Last week, Warren announced that seven officers involved in the incident and a sergeant have been suspended. They were identified as Josiah Harris, Paul Ricotta, Francisco Santiago, Andrew Specksgoor, Troy Talladay, Mark Vaughn and Sgt. Mark Magri.
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