Back in June, police commanders in Rochester, New York were attempting to prevent the death of Daniel Prude from going public, according to newly surfaced emails.
In a June 4 email, Capt. Frank Umbrino told a higher-up that the video, ultimately released earlier this month, would have “intense ramifications” if the public were able to view it.
In an email to Chief La’Ron Singletary, Deputy Chief Mark Simmons joined the thread and warned about the possibility that the 41-year-old’s death by police could cause a public uproar.
"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," he wrote. "That would simply be a false narrative, and could create animosity and potentially violent blow back in this community as a result."
Simmons recommended that Singletary ask city lawyers to refuse to release the video.
"I totally agree," Singletary shortly afterward.
City attorneys would subsequently attempt to stall the release of the video for two more months. On Monday (September 14), City Hall released a 325-page cache of documents over the city’s mishandling of the Prude’s case. The documents suggest the police department actively worked to cover up what happened.
Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren announced she was relieving Police Chief La’Ron Singletary of his position and suspending two other top officials.
Daniel Prude died after police officers in Rochester, New York 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 allegedly had a mental episode and ran out of his brother’s home.
Prude was reportedly 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 two weeks ago when his family released body camera footage of the incident.
Photo: Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images