Daniel Proud: Rochester officials deliberately delay release of body cam video



The documents also include other examples of possible attempts by police and city officials to control the story surrounding Prude’s death in custody.

A Proud family lawyer’s request for body camera footage has been scheduled as an effort by city and police officers to slow down the release of the tape, which shows officers intercepting and stopping Proud.

Elliot Shields, who was retained by Prude’s brother, filed a Freedom of Information Law request for the footage on 3 April. The footage was not released until August 12.

Documents show that after that email, city attorneys spoke with Rochester police officers and also a lawyer in the New York Attorney General’s office in an effort to deny or delay the request.

On June 4, a police officer wrote in an email to a city attorney, “I am wondering if we should not stop for a while to see what is happening across the country.” The then head Lauren Singleri and the current acting head Mark Simmons.

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“We certainly do not want people to misinterpret the actions of officers and counter the incident with the recent killings of unarmed black men nationally by law enforcement,” Simmons wrote. “I ask that we arrive at the Corporation Council and ask them to reject the request based on the fact that the case is still active, as potential criminal charges are currently being investigated by the AG’s office.” ”

“I completely agree,” Singleri replied.

The footage, released to the public two weeks ago, showed officers showing a naked Prude handcuffed and covering his head with a “spit of spit” after he claimed he had coronovirus and was spitting. Officers grab him and push him to the ground in a prone position, the video shows.

Prude breathed out and was declared brain-dead at a hospital, where he died a week later on March 30.

The Monroe County Medical Examiner ultimately decided Prude’s death, citing complications of asphyxia in the setting of physical restraint. The report also mentions agitated delirium and acute PCP intoxication, which contribute to the immediate cause of death.

Cover-up charges

The footage, made public two weeks ago, led to protests and a cover-up in Rochester. On Monday, the same day the city released documents, Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren fired the chief of police before his retirement and suspended two other employees of the city.

“This initial look has revealed what so many people suspect is the problem we have with the Rochester Police Department,” Warren said in a news release. “One who sees everything through the eyes of a badge and not serves the citizens. It shows that Mr. Prude’s death was not taken seriously as it should have been done by those who have at every level The case of the entire city government was reviewed. ”

In a statement last week, announcing his retirement, Singletary said that the public did what he did wrong.

“The Rochester Police Department and members of the Greater Rochester community know my reputation and know what I stand for,” Singleri said. “The mistakes I made after being informed of Mr. Prude’s death and the actions that were politicized, are not based on facts, and I do not stand for them.”

Last week, Prude’s sister filed suit in federal court against Singletary, 13 other officers and upstate New York City, with a department cover-up of the death. Neither Singletary nor the city responded to the request for comment regarding the lawsuit.

Acting chief Simmons did not respond to CNN’s request for comment on Wednesday.

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New York’s Freedom of Information Law allows state agencies to withdraw documents when their disclosure would interfere with an ongoing investigation or compromise a confidential informant.

Shield, the family’s attorney, was able to view police footage at the Attorney General’s office in mid-July, but a copy was not provided.

In an email on June 3 between Rochester Police Lt. Michael Perkowski and Rochester City Attorney Stephanie Price, Perkowski said that a lawyer in the AG’s office “assisted the plaintiff’s attorney by allowing him to view body warne camera footage without releasing it May be able to do, “before we have to issue it to buy.

On Wednesday, New York Attorney General Letitia James’ office defended her office by issuing a statement to CNN.

“At any point during this investigation any member of the Attorney General’s office directed the City of Rochester or the Rochester Police Department to withdraw information of any kind.

“For the week, the city and police departments have been engaged in a deeply disturbing and deceptive campaign in an effort to cover their tracks and shirk accountability, rather than focusing on the real problem at hand. As we’ve done since April, Our office. Continue to work tirelessly and distracted to respond to the Prude family and the Rochester community. ”

‘Make him a suspect’

In an incident report filed by police officers, Daniel Prude's name is said to be circled in red next to a handwritten note, & quot;  Make him a suspect.  & quot;

Additionally, the documents show at least two examples in which the report made changes related to the events that led to Prude’s death.

Two incident reports recorded by police officers, in documents released by the city, have been edited with red pencil. It is not clear who created these handwritten notes or when they were actually made. In the report of an incident recorded by Officer Mark Vaughan, among several edits, some of the accused, Prude’s name, are written in a location labeled “Victim”.

Prude is named next to a red, large, handwritten note: “Make him a suspect.”

A similar note is linked to a report by Officer Paul Ricotta, who responded to a theft alarm at 3:10 am

As Daniel Pruud’s List [Suspect], “It reads in red pencil.” Burglars recorded during the day’s show – add video [suspect] Break the window and enter the location. ”

Body cam footage from Prude’s arrest includes speculating officers if Prude (described as “Mr. PCP”) may be the person responsible for the broken window at a T-Mobile store. The original report listed the suspect as “unknown”.

Rochester Police Union President Mike Mazzeo told CNN on Wednesday that he does not know who wrote the handwritten amendments to police reports, but said it is standard practice to amend the report before it is finalized. He said that he did not have the signature of an observer in the report under consideration.

A follow-up report on the incident from Rochester’s Major Crimes Unit stated that “several reports have been rejected for modifications,” but it does not clarify which reports, nor what modifications.

Attempt to talk to Medical Examiner’s Office

In addition, the documents reveal an email exchange following Prude’s death at Strong Memorial Hospital in which Lt. Perkowski sought to speak to the medical examiner’s office before Prud’s autopsy.

“I think your office must have been doing the autopsy,” Perokoski wrote on March 31 to Julie Ledke, a confidential assistant to the Munroe County Medical Examiner. “Can you and I have a conversation before you start?”

“It is somewhat sensitive, because he was in police custody when he was sent to the hospital,” Perkowski continued. “I was at the scene and you have all the details.”

In response, Liedke asked for the relevant incident report, which Perkowski said they were on their way. He then stated that he had “background information” and offered to meet with the medical examiner. Luedke responded by saying that she would call Perkowski.

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The Monroe County Medical Examiner eventually described Prude’s death as a murder. CNN has reached out to the medical examiner’s office for comment.

Mazio, the president of the police union, said it was a standard conversation.

“A medical examiner has information and a lot of information is determined based on the context of what happened,” he said.

“I did not see any of these emails until they were released. But I am telling you that the medical examiner always wants that information on any murder or any investigation with the ME’s office and the head Hand out the crime. ”

Mazzazo said the union would provide representation for the officers involved in the case, and he plans to announce the names of those lawyers as soon as possible.

He also acknowledged a misunderstanding between the police and the city’s leadership.

“I’m surprised, and I have no reason they handled it that way. And obviously the chief has paid the price for it, but I believe a lot of people fall in here and we’re not really getting Huh.” At the root of the problem, ”he said.

“Why do any of us want to live through what we’re living through right now? You know, public confidence is important, and it’s very difficult to work in the police anyhow. Why make stupid mistakes Or handle things like that. It makes no sense. And leadership should question it. “

Eric Levenson of CNN contributed to this report.

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