Mayor says $12 million settlement to Prude children is a fair deal

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. — The city of Rochester is going to pay the children of Daniel Prude $12 million. The deal was made on Thursday. It will be split between Prude’s five children in Chicago.

Prude’s death after he was pinned to the street by Rochester police two and a half years ago, changed our city, its leaders and our police department.

READ MORE: City reaches $12 million settlement with Daniel Prude estate, most money will go to Prude’s children

The lawyer said this is the largest settlement in the history of Rochester. The $12 million comes from the city’s insurance fund, but that is funded by taxpayers.

“This has been going on for two years. I’ve been in office nine months. One of the things we wanted to do is try to bring this chapter to a close and I believe, if you saw my statement today, I believe this does that,” Mayor Malik Evans said.

Brean: “Is a fair deal?”

Mayor Malik Evans: “I think so based upon if you look at how long it would take us to do something like this, this could go on forever and cost the city a lot more money.”

In late March of 2020, when the first wave of COVID was locking down our community, Daniel Prude was alone and naked on Jefferson Avenue.

He arrived by train from Chicago less than 12 hours earlier. But, in the middle of the night, a few hours after, he was released from Strong Hospital after a mental health check. Prude was surrounded by police who put a spit bag on his head and eventually pinned him to the ground. Ninety seconds later, Prude stopped breathing. A week later he was taken off life support and died.

“We’re glad Rochester has acknowledged responsibility and wants to move forward,”  said Matthew Piers, the Prude children’s attorney.

Brean: “Why is this settlement in the best interest of the public here in Rochester?”

Matthew Piers: “Money is the only outcome that is available under our legal system. A horrific act of police misconduct took place here. Our justice system cries out that there be a resolution for that and the only resolution that is available is money.”

Piers says the case exposed serious problems when police are dispatched to handle people in the middle of a mental health crisis.

“And if this case serves as a painful reminder for the need to address those issues, then it’s very much the right thing to do,” he said.

There’s been lots of change. The City added approximately $600,000 to create/include full-time positions for the Crisis Intervention Services Person in Crisis team. This allows the City the ability to provide critical services to the community.

– social workers are sent to mental health calls
– there are county services after an arrest
– there’s the police accountability board
– the RPD banned pinning a head to the ground and choke holds, changed its protest policy and made a general order requiring officers to intervene

The face of the protests in 2020 was Daniel’s brother Joe Prude. That’s who Daniel was coming to visit. Joe Prude actually filed the first lawsuit against the city, but because Daniel didn’t have a will, the law in New York and Illinois said the children were first in line. So they get $12 million. Joe gets nothing.

Six of the seven police officers suspended are back working. The last is still waiting for his disciplinary hearing.