Police leaders pressed Rochester to keep Prude video secret

National News

In this image taken from police body camera video provided by Roth and Roth LLP, a Rochester police officer puts a hood over the head of Daniel Prude, on March 23, 2020, in Rochester, N.Y. Video of Prude, a Black man who had run naked through the streets of the western New York city, died of asphyxiation after a group of police officers put a hood over his head, then pressed his face into the pavement for two minutes, according to video and records released Wednesday, Sept. 2, 2020, by his family. Prude died March 30 after he was taken off life support, seven days after the encounter with police in Rochester. (Rochester Police via Roth and Roth LLP via AP)

Newly released emails show Rochester police commanders urged city officials to hold off on publicly releasing body camera footage of Daniel Prude’s suffocation death. They feared violent blowback if the video came out during nationwide protests over the police killing of George Floyd.

Deputy Chief Mark Simmons cited the “current climate” in the city and the nation in a June 4 email to then-Chief La’ron Singletary calling for city lawyers to deny a Prude family lawyer’s public records request for the footage of the March 23 encounter that led to his death.

The video, finally made public by Prude’s family on Sept. 4, shows an officer pushing a naked Prude’s head against the ground for two minutes until he stopped breathing. He was taken off life support a week later.

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