Black man died of asphyxiation after NY police used ‘spit hood’ and held him face-down for two minutes
An unarmed black man died in New York state after police used a ‘spit hood’ and held him face-down to the road for two minutes, body camera footage shows.
Daniel Prude, 41, was suffering from mental health issues when he was retrained by police in March. He died in hospital a week later. His story has only now been made public by his family.
Two months after Mr Prude’s death, the killing of unarmed George Floyd, who had a police officer kneeling on his neck for nearly eight minutes, sparked global outrage.
Tensions in the US has flared again in recent weeks after black man Daniel Blake was shot seven times in the back and paralysed during an arrest in Kenosha, Wisconsin. The shooting has sparked mass protesting in the city which has turned violent.
Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden has called for charges to be bought against the police involved in Mr Blake’s shooting and the shooting of Breonna Taylor, an African-American medical worker who was killed in her home during a drug raid in March.
“I think we should let the judicial system work its way,” he told a news conference in Deleware. “I do think at a minimum, they need to be charged, the officers.”
US Attorney General William Barr on Wednesday dismissed accusations that black and white Americans were treated differently due to police racism.
In an interview with CNN, he said it was very rare for an unarmed black person to be shot by a white officer.
“I think the narrative that the police are in some epidemic of shooting unarmed black men is simply a false narrative,” he said.
What happened to Daniel?
Daniel Prude’s brother, Joe, called police in Rochester, New York on 23 March as his sibling was suffering from acute mental health problems.
“I placed a phone call for my brother to get help, not for my brother to get lynched,” he told a news conference.
— Berkeley Brean (@whec_bbrean) September 2, 2020
Daniel was a warehouse worker from Chicago visiting his brother at the time of his death.
Police body camera footage obtained by the family through a public records request shows Mr Prude, who had been running naked through the streets in light snow before police arrive, lying unarmed as officers restrain him on the ground.
The video shows Mr Prude complied immediately when officers arrived on the scene and ordered him to lie on the ground and put his hands behind his back. He can be heard saying: “Sure thing, sure thing.”
He becomes agitated, at times swearing at the officers and spitting, but he does not appear to offer any physical resistance, according to the footage.
He told the officers he had Covid-19, and they placed a “spit hood” over his head.
Spit hoods are made from mesh fabric and are used on suspects to protect officers from a detainee’s saliva. But critics say they are distressing and humiliating, and cause panic in the person being detained. Furthermore, it is harder to notice if a detainee is having difficulty breathing.
One officer is seen pressing down with both hands on Daniel’s head and saying: “Stop spitting.”
After he stops writhing and goes quiet, one officer notes: “He feels pretty cold.”
Medics try to revive him before he is carried into an ambulance. He was taken off life support a week later on 30 March.
The family’s lawyer said the reason the case was not made public earlier was that it had taken “months” for police footage to be released.
In a statement, New York state’s attorney general called the death a “tragedy” and said an investigation was underway. The officers involved have not been suspended.
According to a post-mortem report seen by Democrat and Chronicle newspaper, Mr Prude’s death was a homicide caused by “complications of asphyxia in the setting of physical restraint.”
The report also lists PCP, a hallucinogenic drug, as a complication.
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