New details have emerged about how the Rochester Police Department spent months attempting to cover up the death of Daniel Prude, a Black man who died from asphyxiation in March after police officers handcuffed him, put a hood over his head and pushed his face into the freezing cold ground for two minutes while kneeling on his back. Newly released internal documents show the department spent months attempting to block the release of video of the incident. In one email in June, the department’s deputy chief opposed releasing the video because it “could create animosity and potentially violent blow back in this community.” The police chief responded saying, “I totally agree.” Police also attempted to frame Prude, who had been suffering a mental health episode. In one police report, an officer wrote in red letters, “Make him a suspect.”
On Monday, Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren fired the city’s police chief, saying there is a “pervasive problem” in the city’s police department. On Tuesday, the Rochester City Council passed bills to authorize an independent investigation into Prude’s death, to transfer some money away from the police department and to repeal a previous vote to fund a new police station.