Oct 6, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Rochester reaches $12 million settlement over Daniel Prude's death

A  memorial for Daniel Prude in Rochester, New York, in September 2020.

A memorial for Daniel Prude in Rochester, New York, in September 2020. Photo: Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images

The city of Rochester, New York, reached a settlement with the family members of Daniel Prude, a Black man who was declared brain-dead and died after being in police custody in March 2020.

Why it matters: Prude's death sparked dozens of nightly protests in September 2020 amid national demonstrations in response to the deaths of Black men and women during police encounters, set off primarily by the police killing of George Floyd.

The protests erupted nearly six months after Prude's death, when body camera video of his encounter with police was released.

  • Prude's brother had originally called the police, saying his brother had a mental health episode.
  • The video showed police officers putting a hood over the 41-year-old's head and holding his face to the pavement for two minutes. He then fell unconscious and was taken to a hospital, where he was declared brain-dead and was taken off life support around a week later.
  • Police initially ruled Prude's death an overdose, though the autopsy report characterized his death as a homicide from "complications of asphyxia in the setting of physical restraint."
  • PCP was listed as a contributing factor to his death by a county medical examiner, while lawyers for the officers said they "were strictly following their training that night."

What they're saying: "After more than two years, the City of Rochester has come to a settlement agreement with the estate of Daniel Prude. In this agreement, the City will pay the estate the sum of $12 million," Rochester Mayor Malik Evans (D) said.

  • "Given the costs of continued litigation, this settlement was the best decision. It would have cost taxpayers even more to litigate, and would have placed a painful toll on our community," Evans added.
  • "It is now time to look forward so we may work together and focus our efforts on Rochester’s future."

The big picture: The police chief at the time of Prude's death, La'Ron Singletary, was fired by former Mayor Lovely Warren, though Singletary later received a $75,000 settlement with the city, according to the Democrat and Chronicle.

  • Seven police officers were suspended over Prude's death and did not face criminal charges.

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