Daniel Prude's children sue Rochester, NY, alleging history of ignored police misconduct

Gary Craig, Rochester Democrat and Chronicle
·3 min read

ROCHESTER, N.Y. – The five children of Daniel Prude claim in a lawsuit against the city that it has ignored allegations of police abuse, and the festering misconduct was one cause of Prude's death at the hands of police.

This is the second federal lawsuit against the city and the police after Prude died March 30. Police had restrained the naked man and cuffed his hands behind his back.

An earlier lawsuit was brought by Prude's sister. Courts determined that Prude's children, who were not acknowledged in the sister's lawsuit, were the rightful heirs who could sue on behalf of Prude's estate.

This lawsuit is similar to the first, alleging that the police who restrained Prude were responsible for his death.

A grand jury opted not to indict any of the officers on criminal charges.

City officials declined to comment Monday.

Protesters face off with a line of police in Rochester, N.Y., on  Feb. 23 after an announcement by the state attorney general that a grand jury would not bring criminal charges against any of the police officers involved in Daniel Prude's detainment in 2020.
Protesters face off with a line of police in Rochester, N.Y., on Feb. 23 after an announcement by the state attorney general that a grand jury would not bring criminal charges against any of the police officers involved in Daniel Prude's detainment in 2020.

Daniel Prude grand jury: Rochester, New York, police officers will not face charges in March 2020 death

Police ill-prepared, lawsuit alleges

Daniel Prude died after being restrained by police.
Daniel Prude died after being restrained by police.

The police were ill-prepared to handle an individual undergoing a mental health crisis, as Prude was, and their restraint caused him to lose oxygen and die, the lawsuit contends.

City officials "knew to a moral certainty that without training and policies in place to guide officers on how to interact with people experiencing mental health crises, police officers are likely to make choices and take actions during these encounters that will cause the deprivation of a citizen's constitutional rights, including either by using excessive force against them or denying them needed care, or both," the lawsuit says.

"Running through the streets, Mr. Prude sought help as he struggled with a severe mental health crisis," Rochester attorney Stephen Schwarz, one of the lawyers for Prude's children, said in a news release. "He asked for assistance. Instead he was killed, abused, asphyxiated due to excessive force, and then ignored when he could have been resuscitated."

The death was ruled a homicide by the Monroe County medical examiner, who cited PCP intoxication as a contributing factor.

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Above: Police officer Mark Vaughn, center, restrains Daniel Prude on March 23. Below: Trainers display the restraint technique.
Above: Police officer Mark Vaughn, center, restrains Daniel Prude on March 23. Below: Trainers display the restraint technique.

The lawsuit contends that confrontations between Rochester police and the mentally troubled in recent years show that the city has done little to rein in police misconduct.

Also representing the children in the lawsuit is the Chicago firm of Hughes, Socol, Piers, Resnick & Dym.

In a remote news conference Monday, attorney Matthew Piers, president of the firm Hughes, Socol, Piers, Resnick & Dym, said Prude was "suffering an acute mental health crisis and was desperately seeking help" when he was approached by police and restrained.

Piers noted that the threshold for success in a civil lawsuit is a "preponderance of evidence," a lesser demarcation than that necessary for a criminal conviction.

Follow reporter Gary Craig on Twitter at gcraig1.

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This article originally appeared on Rochester Democrat and Chronicle: Daniel Prude children sue Rochester, police after Black man's death