Documents reveal that law enforcement officials tried to withhold information about Daniel Prude’s death for months.
The video went viral, showing Daniel Prude, a Black man, with a hood over his head being pinned down by police in Rochester, New York, in March. He died a week later.
Now, Prude’s family is accusing cops of covering up the death as protests continue across the country against police brutality.
Documents released Monday showed repeated attempts by police to keep details of Prude’s death from getting out to the public. At the time, authorities cited an ‘ongoing investigation’ and ‘privacy’ as the reasons for not releasing details.
But privately, they worried about public backlash as protests over the deaths of unarmed black men continued to grow across the country.
According to the Washington Post, in June, Deputy Police Chief Mark Simmons wrote to Chief La’Ron Singletary, saying: “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.
“That would simply be a false narrative, and could create animosity and potentially violent blowback in this community as a result,” he added.
Singletary answered about 20 minutes later, saying: “I totally agree.”
In a police report, the area for “victim type” had Prude listed. But next to that in red, another officer wrote, “Make him a suspect.”
Rochester Mayor Lovely A. Warren fired the city’s police chief Monday after an internal investigation showed police commanders and city officials didn’t take Prude’s death seriously.
A medical examiner ruled his death a homicide caused by “complications of asphyxia in the setting of physical restraint.”