Rochester, New York, police charge just 1 of 7 suspended officers in Daniel Prude's 2020 death

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An internal Rochester Police Department investigation has determined just one of the seven suspended officers for their roles in the 2020 death of Daniel Prude will face potential discipline.

Officer Mark Vaughn has been served "with departmental charges," the police department announced in a statement on Thursday night. The statement didn't reveal what charges Vaughn will face, what the discipline might entail, or if he remains employed by the department.

Prude, a 41-year-old Black man from Chicago, died in March 2020 after being restrained and asphyxiated by New York police while in the throes of a mental health crisis.

In body-worn camera footage released by the department, Vaughn is shown utilizing a push-up-like stance to restrain Prude's head against the pavement. It is known as the segmenting technique.

Rochester police body camera footage of police interaction with Daniel Prude on March 23, 2020. Prude became agitated after being hooded eventually a couple of officers held his face sideways against the street.
Rochester police body camera footage of police interaction with Daniel Prude on March 23, 2020. Prude became agitated after being hooded eventually a couple of officers held his face sideways against the street.

"The Department fully supports Officer Vaughn’s right to due process and to defend himself against the charges, of which no pre-determined outcome has been put in place," the department said in the release. "A formal hearing will be scheduled in the future."

No other officers will be charged in the incident.

On the final day disciplinary action could be taken under the union contract – some 18 months after the incident – the city rendered its decision in an emailed statement at the close of business, taking no questions.

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The decision on whether any departmental charges would be brought was to be made in April. Then, on June 8, interim Police Chief Cynthia Herriott-Sullivan told the city council she expected to decide by early July.

Mayor Lovely Warren did not immediately comment on the RPD's decision Thursday night. She had previously expressed outrage at Vaughn's actions, calling his conduct "unacceptable" in a message to then-Chief La'Ron Singletary in August 2020.

When deposed in a city council fact-finding investigation into the city's handling of the Prude case, Warren said, "If Officer Vaughn wasn't on that day, I truly believe that Daniel Prude would still be alive."

Singletary, in his deposition, recalled Warren describing Prude's death as a murder and advocating for Vaughn specifically to be fired.

In a lawsuit filed by Prude's family, city attorneys have largely defended police actions. The lawyers have said Vaughn used a restraint technique that police are taught "to hold Mr. Prude's head to the ground in order to stop Mr. Prude's attempts to stand up."

David Rothenberg, the union-hired attorney for Vaughn, declined to comment.

This article originally appeared on Rochester Democrat and Chronicle: Rochester police charge just 1 officer in 2020 death of Daniel Prude

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