One year later: Loved ones of Daniel Prude say they still want more done, RPD reveals use of force changes

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — One year ago Thursday, Rochester Police Department’s body camera video showing the arrest and pinning of Daniel Prude on Jefferson Avenue was shown to the public for the first time.

Prude stopped breathing minutes after he was handcuffed and pinned and died a week later when he was taken off life support. The video sparked two straight weeks of protest.

"Oh boy, where should I start?" Joe Prude, Daniel Prude’s brother, asked as he stepped up to the microphone.

One year ago, Joe Prude was on the steps of City Hall, revealing the information and video about his brother’s death in police custody. Thursday, he was with members of Free the People Roc outside the Public Safety Building.

"A whole year now," he said. "Nothing’s been done. Everything swept under the table."

The protests that followed the news of Prude’s death lasted more than two weeks, with multiple people arrested, including Sidy Grandoit, whose trial for resisting arrest and trespassing into the police station is set for December.

"It’s scary to think that I’m blessed to actually be able to face trial," Grandoit said at the news conference. "And not six feet underground from the police."

Here is a sample of what has happened in the past 12 months:

  • Rochester Police Chief La’Ron Singletary was fired
  • The Rochester Police Department’s budget was cut.
  • A proposed police substation on East Main Street was scuttled.
  • A City Council investigation found mistakes by city leadership.
  • The state attorney general’s grand jury did not indict seven officers who are still on paid leave.

Stanley Martin, a member of Free the People Roc and Democratic Rochester City Councilmember-presumptive: "Just yesterday [Wednesday], the City of Rochester admitted that there has been a legacy in the Rochester Police Department of untruthfulness. And yet today [Thursday], they have begun advocating for the building of two new substations on Lake and East Main. This is an insult to the Prude family."

"The pain and agony my family is enduring right now," Joe Prude said, pausing to put his head in his hands. "I mean, let’s be real with each other. They know they did something wrong. The whole world knows they did something wrong."

On the same date, Rochester Police Department released new policy changes involving the use of force. The changes include revisions to general orders concerning adults including a ban on chokeholds, neck restraints, and firing warning shots.

When it comes to children under 17, officers can no longer use pepper spray, a baton, or tasers unless they are aggressive or a threat to themselves or others.

This takes us back to the 9-year-old girl who was handcuffed and pepper-sprayed by Rochester Police officers in February. The girl was distraught over a conflict between her mother and another man.

Rochester Police body camera video shows about six minutes after police caught up to her, she was handcuffed then pepper-sprayed.

In the new general orders issued by the police department Thursday, it says "members are prohibited from using chemical agents, including OC spray," or pepper spray on anyone under 17 unless that child is combative and dangerous and "there are no reasonable alternatives."

Lorenzo Napolitano is the lawyer for the girl and her mother, Elba Pope.

Brean: "Do you think that change we see from RPD is directly related to what happened to Ms. Pope’s daughter?"
Napolitano: "I think it has a big part in that. That and you can’t go without mentioning Daniel Prude as well."

Advocates with Free the People Roc said these policy changes are not enough.

Ashley Gantt, Free the People Roc: "We know that revising policies won’t end white supremacy, won’t end implicit bias, won’t end racism. We’re calling for the police to be defunded by 50%. And instead, put some of those resources into mental health services."

"We are pleased to see changes," Napolitano said. "Although, on the other hand, it’s a bit sad that we actually have to have a formal policy that we shouldn’t be handcuffing 9-year-olds that don’t present a danger to anyone else or themselves."

Napolitano said the 9-year-old is in counseling and still afraid of the police, but ultimately, she wants to go back to school, be with her friends and be a normal kid.