WXXI AM News

Rochester City Council members look for answers in Daniel Prude's death

Sep 3, 2020

City Council member Mary Lupien says she was shocked and horrified after learning Wednesday that a man died months ago after an incident with Rochester police.

Lupien, who serves on Council for the East District, says there was no communication about the incident from the police or the mayor’s office. She says she can't believe that this was hidden so long.

“Our leadership in the city administration, the police department, and the police union said ‘we are not Minneapolis,’ ‘we don’t have these kinds of problems here,’ ‘we’re ahead of the curve,’ No we’re not and if we continue to deny that we have issues, we have no hopes of solving them.”

Daniel Prude’s family had called police with concerns about his mental health in March. Police found him naked, and they restrained him in the middle of Jefferson Avenue. They put a knee to his back and a bag known as a spit sock over his head. He suffered brain damage and died in the hospital a week later.

During a news conference Wednesday, Mayor Lovely Warren says the city didn’t talk about the incident because of advice from the city law office.

“This is not something that is in our wheelhouse, in our control at this moment in time. And had it been for me, this would be something that we talked about months ago.”

The state attorney general is investigating Prude’s death.

Lupien says she’ll push for legislation to have mental health calls be handled by unarmed first responders.

“You know it really calls for trained professionals who have? deescalation experience and know how to handle people that are in crisis.” Lupien expects to address police and mental health calls through legislation.

Rochester City Council issued a statement on Wednesday saying that, “No person should have to endure what we saw on the body camera footage. In a moment of need, his family reached out for help, and our system failed Mr. Prude at every turn.

Like many in our community, the Council only learned of and saw this footage today. While we are extremely troubled by this matter, we are limited in what we can do at this time. The State Attorney General’s office is conducting an investigation into the death of Mr. Prude, and we call on Attorney General Letitia James to expedite this process. We must bring answers to Mr. Prude’s family.

As we await the outcome of this investigation, we call upon the County to join us to develop adequate and appropriate resources to respond to the cries for help such as these that went unanswered.  We must also rectify inadequacies in our policies, practices, and procedures and improve our communication both internally and externally.”