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Police Accountability Board members call on mayor, Council to work with them on Daniel Prude case

Sep 15, 2020

Members of the Police Accountability Board on Tuesday called on city officials to include them in ongoing investigations following the death of Daniel Prude after he was restrained and suffocated while in custody. He died a week later.

Police Accountability Board chair Shani Wilson, left, speaks with members of grassroots group Vocal-NY
Credit Noelle E. C. Evans | WXXI News

The civilian-run board, which was established to investigate police misconduct, has been excluded from deliberations over the Rochester Police Department, board chair Shani Wilson said. She said that undermines the point of having an accountability board.

“You know these are examples of … an example of why we need to be here.” she said. “So we talk about oversight and accountability. That is what the people voted for.”

The PAB was elected by 77 percent of the vote last November. Wilson said that’s reason enough for city leadership to actively consult the group, and include them in decision-making over police disciplinary actions in cases like Daniel Prude’s.

“This is a case that the PAB is designed to potentially hear,” said PAB member Matthew Nickoloff. “Should there become a complaint that’s saying we think we want another review of this process, we’re not happy with the way this has been handled.”

On Tuesday, Wilson and members of the PAB called for their presence in advisory boards such as RASE and in conversations between the mayor and police chief regarding changes in Rochester Police Department policies.

“We have one focus which is doing what we set out to do and that includes discipline,” said Wilson. “So we have made our by-laws to reflect that. If something happens and we do not receive that then we will make changes at that time.”

Among their requests to city leadership, the PAB is also calling for transparent and timely notice of any in-custody death or internal investigation into police conduct.