ABOVE PHOTO: FILE – An enlarged photo of Daniel Prude, who died following a police encounter, is held by his nephew Armin, left, and his uncle Joe Prude right, in Rochester, N.Y. Newly released grand jury transcripts shed more light on why police officers who restrained Daniel Prude avoided criminal charges in his death, but the city of Rochester and the officers could still be held accountable, Saturday, April 17, 2021. (AP Photo/Ted Shaffrey, File)
ROCHESTER, N.Y. — City officials agreed to pay $12 million to the children of Daniel Prude, a Black man who died after police held him down until he stopped breathing after encountering him running naked through the snowy streets of Rochester, New York.
A federal judge approved the settlement in a court document filed Thursday. Rochester Mayor Malik D. Evans said in a statement that the agreement was “the best decision” for the city.
“It would have cost taxpayers even more to litigate, and would have placed a painful toll on our community,” said Evans, who wasn’t in office when Prude died in March 2020.
The settlement money, minus lawyers’ fees and costs, will go to Prude’s five children, who are heirs to the estate, attorneys said.
“I think that it’s an amount of money that is sufficient to show that the City of Rochester recognizes that something very bad happened and that it’s very important for the city to put it in the rearview mirror and move forward,” said lawyer Matthew Piers, who represents the administrator of the estate.
Police confronted Prude, 41, after his
brother called to say the man needed mental health help. Prude had been taken to a hospital for a psychiatric evaluation earlier that night but was released after a few hours, and later bolted from his brother’s home.
Police video showed that Prude complied with police demands to get on the ground and put his hands behind his back. He became agitated as he sat, handcuffed, on the pavement.
Police then put a hood over his head to stop him from spitting and held him down for about two minutes until his breathing stopped. He died several days later after being taken off life support.
The county medical examiner said his death was a homicide caused by “complications of asphyxia in the setting of physical restraint” and cited the drug PCP as a contributing factor. The officers said they followed their training. A grand jury last year declined to bring criminal charges against them.
The relatives’ lawyers said that Prude’s constitutional rights were violated by the police actions and what the family called an attempted cover-up by the department and city government. Emails released showed that in June 2020, Rochester police commanders urged city officials to hold off on publicly releasing the video because they feared violent blowback if it came out during nationwide protests that were then unfolding over the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis.
Prude’s family eventually obtained the video and released it in September 2020.