ROCHESTER, NY (WROC) – The Rochester Police Department “has determined possible grounds for legal recourse” against an officer involved in the March 23, 2020 incident involving Daniel Prude.
Officer Mark Vaughn was charged with unnecessary and / or excessive force and rude / unprofessional conduct on Thursday. Those are departmental positions.
Vaughn was the officer seen leaning against Prude’s head and neck area in police body camera video of the encounter. The officers’ attorneys said the “segmentation” technique was performed according to the latest training.
The department said Thursday it “fully supports Officer Vaughn’s right to due process and to defend himself against the charges, for which no predetermined outcome has been established.”
“They are bringing vague and undefined charges against Officer Vaughn,” said Elliot Shields, an attorney representing the Prude family. “Now if they were going to charge Officer Vaughn with the most serious charges and seek his dismissal, which is what they should be doing, they would have said that.”
“If we were involved in this, we would have conducted a swift, thorough and transparent investigation,” said Rochester Police Accountability Board Executive Director Conor Dwyer Reynolds. “You would know what charges we were recommending and it would have been done by an independent civilian rather than by people within the department so that people could trust that the correct charges were being filed.”
No other officer involved in the incident has been charged. A formal hearing for Vaughn has not yet been scheduled.
“All other officers who were present at this scene had a duty to intervene, and are equally responsible for Daniel Prude’s death under the law,” Shields said. “Troy Taladay put his entire body weight on Daniel Prude’s back as he sat there and breathed his last breath.”
Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren issued a written statement on Friday, September 24, the day after the departmental charges were served, calling for justice and change.
“Our community has suffered greatly from the tragic death of Daniel Prude,” Warren said. “However, I hope that the work we have done creating People in Crisis Teams, changing RPD policies and procedures, fully funding the PAB, and training more police officers in de-escalation techniques will ensure that, going forward, we always respond. to those in need with compassion and humanity. “
The Rochester Police Department confirmed in July that there was completed the internal investigation into Prude’s death. The department said Friday that the report has not been released “on the advice of an attorney” due to a pending hearing.
In March 2020, Rochester police responded to the Jefferson Avenue Dr. Samuel McCree Way area, where Prude was having what New York Attorney General Letitia James would later call “a mental health crisis.” Body Camera Images showed officers pinning him to the ground, naked on a freezing night, and putting a mesh mask over his head.
Prude lost consciousness, was hospitalized, and died 7 days later. He was 41 years old.
The Monroe County Medical Examiner’s Office ruled that Prude’s death was a homicide and listed her cause of death as “complications of suffocation in the context of physical restraint.” The report also showed that he had a small number of PCPs in his system at the time of his death.
The circumstances of Prude’s death were not made public until September 2020, six months after it occurred. The body camera footage and delay. sparked protests in Rochester and beyond.
Public disagreements between Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren and then-Police Chief La’Ron Singletary highlighted the controversies raised by the official handling of the case. That culminated in an almost nine-hour deposition in which Singletary disputed the mayor’s claims about Prude’s death and the six-month delay between when it happened and when the public was notified.
A The independent City Council investigation concluded that key City of Rochester officials “knowingly suppressed” information about Prude’s death., and said that the final decision not to disclose Prude’s death to the public was that of Mayor Lovely Warren, but stopped short of saying that she was solely responsible.
A grand jury decided not to accuse any of the policemen involved in Prude’s death in February.
the seven Rochester police officers initially suspended with pay In connection with the incident were Mark Vaughn, Troy Taladay, Paul Ricotta, Francisco Santiago, Andrew Specksgoor, Josiah Harris and Sgt. Michael Magri.
The Rochester Police Lobster Club responded to Thursday’s development in a tweet, saying “Ask [Interim Police Chief Cynthia] Herriott[-Sullivan] to stand next to us and answer questions. Ask him why he had the results since last April. Ask why they repeatedly said they would make the decision, now it is the dispute attorney’s decision. Ask him why he will lie for a corrupt mayor! “
A statement Friday from the attorneys representing Daniel Prude’s estate:
“Last night, the City of Rochester announced that only one Rochester police officer would face disciplinary charges in connection with the violent murder of Daniel Prude by RPD officers.
Attorneys representing Daniel Prude’s Estate in a civil rights lawsuit against the City of Rochester state “It is time for the City of Rochester to seek accountability for the officers who killed Daniel. As everyone knows by now, the city’s initial reaction to the police murder of Daniel Prude was to cover it up. As we allege in our lawsuit, the City of Rochester has long maintained an official policy of covering up even the most egregious acts of police misconduct and failing to discipline officers who inflict violence in the community. This policy must end.
Although several RPD officers were directly involved in the fatal encounter with Mr. Prude, the City is filing disciplinary charges against only one of them, Mark Vaughn. The city did not disclose what disciplinary charges it filed against Officer Vaughn. The Estate attorneys further state: “We are highly skeptical that real accountability will be achieved through the City’s broken disciplinary system, and that is why we look forward to our day in Court.”
Check back with News 8 WROC as we will continue to update this developing story.