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Rochester Mayor Promises Police Reforms After Protests Over Daniel Prude's Death

Sep 7, 2020

The mayor of Rochester, N.Y., is promising reforms to the city's police department after five nights of protests over the death of Daniel Prude after his arrest in March.

Thousands of protesters have been marching in Rochester since a lawyer for Prude's family released police body-camera footage of the arrest to local media last week. The video depicts Prude, a 41-year-old Black man, lying naked with a bag over his head, surrounded by officers who pin him to the ground on March 23. He died of asphyxiation a week later, according to the Monroe County Medical Examiner's Office, which called it a "homicide."

At a news conference on Sunday, Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren pledged to change how the city and its police respond to mental health crises — including moving some services out of the police department.

"We are doubling the availability of mental health professionals. We will take our family crisis intervention team out of the police department and move it and its funding to the department of youth and recreation services," Warren said.

Rochester Mayor Lovely A. Warren addresses reporters during a news conference in Rochester, N.Y., on Sunday, following five nights of protests over Daniel Prude's death.
Michael M. Santiago / Getty Images

But she added, "This work won't be done in a week or a weekend."

The night of the arrest, Prude's brother Joe had called police asking for help for Daniel Prude, who was behaving erratically and had a history of mental illness.

After the video's release, Warren immediately suspended seven officers with pay. As NPR's Liz Baker has reported, many protesters say that action doesn't go far enough.

As NPR's Brian Mann reported from Rochester, demonstrators there have been protesting what they see as a cover-up by police, who first said Prude had died from a drug overdose.

The protests in Rochester have been mostly peaceful, Mann reports, although police have fired pepper balls at protesters.

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