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Emails reveal how police tried to keep Daniel Prude video a secret

The officers wanted to delay the release of the bodycam footage to the family to prevent “blowback” from the community.

Justice for Daniel Prude Getty Images

Newly released emails show that Rochester police officers wanted to keep the video of Daniel Prude’s suffocation death a secret, according to CBS News.

In a June 4 email, Deputy Chief Mark Simmons advised Chief La’ron Singletary to urge the city’s attorneys to deny Prude’s family video footage of his death to prevent “blowback” from the community following the death of George Floyd.

“We certainly do not want people to misinterpret the officers’ actions and conflate this incident with any recent killings of unarmed Black men by law enforcement nationally,” Simmons wrote. “That would simply be a false narrative, and could create animosity and potentially violent blowback in this community as a result.”

Multiple emails revealed that police tried to come up with different excuses to delay releasing the video — from blaming an employee’s buildup in processing videos to listing hospital privacy laws. A police report revealed that the department wanted to make Prude a suspect. Someone wrote, “Make him a suspect,” on the report in red writing.

Earlier this month, the horrific video was finally released to Prude’s family and the public. Members of his family held a press conference sharing the events that led up to his death. Eight hours before the encounter, Prude was taken to a hospital for a mental health assessment.

After being released back into his family’s care, he suddenly ran into the street and took his clothes off. Once officers arrived to the scene, they placed Prude in handcuffs and put a hood over his face because he was spitting. They pressed his face into the pavement for almost two minutes.

Prude died on Mar. 30 after his family took him off life support. An autopsy report from the Monroe County Medical Examiner’s Office ruled his death a homicide by asphyxiation and physical restraint.

On Sep. 3, Mayor Lovely Warren announced that the seven police officers who were involved in Prude’s death were suspended. “Mr. Daniel Prude was failed by the police department, our mental health care system, our society and he was failed by me,” she said.

Warren also fired Chief La’ron Singletary two weeks before he was set to retire. Simmons was demoted to a lieutenant last week, but is now the acting police chief.

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