The New York chapters of Moms Demand Action and Students Demand Action, both part of Everytown for Gun Safety’s volunteer networks, today released the following statement as local racial justice group Free the People Roc obtained and released new footage of Rochester police killing Daniel Prude, a Black man, in March.
“The videos of Daniel Prude’s death ishine chilling, and we’re standing with his family in calling for a thorough, transparent investigation,” said Carol Kistner, a volunteer with New York Moms Demand Action. “We need to reform law enforcement so we can stop relying on overmilitarized, under-trained police departments that use violence as their first response.”
According to reports, police officers responded after Daniel Prude’s brother called 911 about his erratic behavior, a day after he’d been taken to a hospital for mental health treatment. Officers put a mesh bag over Daniel Prude’s head while he was handcuffed and lying naked on the cold, wet ground in Rochester. Officers Mark Vaughn and Troy Taladay then pushed Prude down – “Talady kneeling on Prude’s back and Vaughn pushing Prude’s face into the ground, while Prude repeatedly asks the officers to get off him… cries and make sputtering sounds,” according to The Appeal. During the encounter, with Talady still kneeling on his back and making crude jokes, Prude stopped breathing. According to the Rochester City Newspaper, medics were able to resuscitate Prude, but he had been deprived of oxygen for such a substantial amount of time that he was “most likely brain dead.” Prude’s family took him off of life support the following week.
Limiting confrontations that can lead to misuse of force and expanding alternative dispatch tools that include non-law-enforcement personnel are holistic strategies that can help people in crisis, like Daniel Prude. Meaningful use of force policies encourage de-escalation, utilize early intervention systems, and ensure that officers who abuse their authority and use excessive force can be held accountable. These policies can ensure public safety and promote trust in the police.
Research suggests that implementing specific use-of-force policies can save lives. One 2016 study of 91 large police departments found that the adoption of use-of-force reform policies—exhaustion of other means prior to shooting, bans on chokeholds and strangleholds, a use-of-force continuum, de-escalation, duty to intervene, restrictions on shootings at moving vehicles, and warning before shooting—was associated with fewer people killed by police.
Black people in the United States are far more likely to be shot and killed by law enforcement than their white counterparts, and data from Mapping Police Violence shows that most people killed by police are killed with guns. In New York, Black people are killed by police at more than 5 times the rate of white people