Officials announced Thursday that a Rochester, N.Y., police officer faces departmental charges in the case of Daniel Prude, a Black man who died following his arrest last March.
According to the New York Times, officer Mark Vaughn was charged with excessive use of force and unprofessional behavior. The charges are the first in the Prude case following the department’s internal investigation. Vaughn was one of seven officers suspended with pay last year.
The Root previously reported that a grand jury convened by New York Attorney General Letitia James’ office decided not to charge the officers of any crimes in connection with Prude’s death earlier this year.
According to the Associated Press, a formal hearing date has not been announced. After the hearing takes place, a hearing officer will recommend potential discipline for the officer.
Prude died last March after Rochester police officers confronted him following a 911 call from his brother. Prude was suffering a mental health crisis when he left his brother’s house. When the police caught up with him, Prude was naked, shouting incoherently and spitting but complied with orders to get on the ground and put his hands behind his back.
The officers put a spit hood over Prude’s head, which he begged them to take off. In the body camera footage from the arrest, an officer is seen slamming Prude’s head into the street and another placing his knee on his back. The officers laughed and mocked Prude as he struggled and went unconscious.
Vaughn was one of the officers in the video.
Police body camera video released six months later shows Vaughn assuming a pushup stance while pressing Prude’s head to the pavement with his hands as other officers immobilize his legs. A mesh “spit hood” was placed over the head of Prude, who was naked on a cold night.
Lawyers for the police said the officers were strictly following their training in a technique known as segmenting.
Following the release of the departmental findings, Mayor Lovely Warren indicated she would seek Vaughn’s termination.
“Our community has suffered greatly from the tragic death of Daniel Prude,” Warren said in a statement Friday.
Officials also said the other six officers will be assigned to the department’s professional development to focus on department policies and procedures, AP reports.
Along with the announcement of Vaughn’s charges, the police also released a video timeline of Prude’s movements on the day of his fatal arrest. The AP notes that the video includes surveillance footage from the area, cellphone videos, 911 recordings and police body camera footage. In the video, Prude strips himself of his clothing while walking for about a mile in snowfall before the altercation.
His brother said Prude smoked marijuana laced with PCP before the episode, but the county medical examiner found the drug was only a contributing factor in the 41-year-old’s death. His cause of death was officially determined to be “complications of asphyxia in the setting of physical restraint.”
The Rochester Police Department is currently facing a federal civil rights lawsuit filed by a group of attorneys and activists earlier this year over numerous cases of police brutality. Daniel Prude’s family also filed a wrongful death lawsuit, according to AP.