Protestors say police killed Daniel Prude. But new reports show that’s not even remotely true. (Op-ed)

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This editorial is brought to you by a staff writer for Law Enforcement Today.

ROCHESTER – Rioters smashed Rochester all in the name of Daniel Prude.  But new facts coming to light should entirely clear the police. 

Here’s the deal.

On March 22, Daniel Prude was on a train en route to Rochester, NY.

When the train got to Buffalo, he was forcibly removed due to erratic behavior and smoking on the train.

Prude’s brother, Joe Prude, drove out from Rochester to pick him up, and brought him back to Rochester. Hours later, Daniel Prude was dead.

A crowd of approximately 5,000 rioters trashed downtown Rochester Friday night because, they say, police killed Prude.

According to Prude’s brother Joe, Prude was on the drug PCP and hallucinating earlier in the day.

That is, before he ever encountered police, Daniel Prude had voluntarily engaged in dangerous, potentially life-threatening behavior. After he arrived at Joe’s home, he developed the delusion that Joe and his wife were trying to kill him.

After first trying to hide under a couch, Prude threw himself headfirst down a flight of 21 stairs. That act was also potentially life-threatening, and Prude did it to himself. 

According to Joe, Prude made several suicidal statements, as if to explain his self-destructive behavior.

Prude then ran from the house without shoes, gloves, or a jacket. It was snowing outside. Running into inclement, cold weather without proper clothing is life-threatening behavior and Prude did it voluntarily. It was at this point that Joe called police.

After arriving on the scene, police talk with Joe about Prude. As they talk, they receive a call about an “unclothed male with blood on him.” Joe identifies the call as describing his brother.

Bodycam footage released by Rochester police show police approaching Prude, who is now totally naked, standing in the middle of a dark wet street as snow falls around him.

This is dangerous also.

Now, he is no longer wearing the tank top and long johns his brother saw him wearing when he left the house. Prude is now even more exposed to cold, inclement weather than he was before, and has been for some time.

They observe a nearby broken window and blood on Purdue’s wrist, surmising that he broke the window manually and cut himself in the process.

At this point, it is apparent that Prude has already done the following dangerous things:

1) ingested PCP

2) hallucinated

3) thrown himself head-first down a flight of stairs

4) removed his clothing in slightly below freezing weather while it was snowing.

On their own, any one of those four things could have led to his death, and Purdue did all of them before police arrive. If Purdue had broken the window manually, he could have cut himself severely enough to die, particularly given that the bleeding wound seen on his wrist appears to intersect a major artery.

Prude followed police instructions to get on the ground and be handcuffed. This, according to various news sources, proves that Prude not only was compliant, but that any force exercised against him during his arrest was unreasonable.

The bodycam footage shows Prude spitting, and earlier we heard that he had the covid-19 virus. An officer then places a spit hood over his head, to prevent him from spitting on, and potentially infecting, officers or paramedics. 

According to Park City, Utah police chief Wade Carpenter, spit hoods are designed out of a mesh that is designed to be breathable. They are held in place by an elastic around the neck that can easily be broken. Prude can be clearly heard through the mesh as he continues to talk to officers.

He requested that he be given a gun because “I need it”.

About two minutes later, Prude vomits what looks like water. Officers then notice he has stopped breathing. Paramedics have by then arrived.

One of them says that Prude’s current distress is due to the PCP and not officer actions. He is taken to the hospital where he was pronounced brain dead.

He was kept on life support for a week after that, then declared dead.

One thing that is obvious throughout is that at no time did any officer say or do anything that was overtly racist, nor did they behave as if they intended injury.

Their goal was to look into a report of what they learned was a disturbed and suicidal individual, suffering from delusions, who was high on drugs, and had already committed several acts of self-harm.

By some measures, it is a miracle he hadn’t managed to kill himself before police arrived.

When police arrived, they subdued and handcuffed the suspect, which prevented him from doing anything else to harm himself. When he started asking for their guns and spitting, after telling them he had covid-19, they used a spit hood for the purpose it was designed, and put it over Prude’s head.

Protesters and news media, not to mention Prude’s family, now claim that Prude’s death five months ago was the fault of the police.

“They put a bag over his head, and they squeezed the air out of him,” said Nicolette Ward, a lawyer for one of Prude’s daughters. 

No mention is made of all the things Prude did before police found him naked on the snowy streets of Rochester, blood dripping from his body due to self-inflicted wounds. 

Chief Carpenter points out that the spit hood “wouldn’t put any pressure on the carotid arteries in the neck. It wouldn’t restrict blood flow to the brain and certainly wouldn’t block the mouth or nose.” He added that officers in Park City have used the devices for years without issues.

And now we have riots in Rochester, supposedly because Prude was murdered by racist police.

It is amazing how much violence can be caused by a simple misunderstanding, particularly when the news media is there to amplify the mistake, to edit out the facts, and to emphasize everything that could possibly be construed negatively toward the police.

The truth is that the police did as they were trained to do, but Prude’s self-destructive acts prior to the encounter put them in an impossible situation. How do they restrain him for paramedics without exposing themselves or the paramedics to covid-19? The reason the hood was put on his head is that Prude forced them to do it by his own actions.

And now there are more crimes to deal with because the proxy army of the press, the mobs that descended on Rochester, have committed acts of vandalism, looting, arson, and assault. 

Supposedly, idle hands do the devil’s work. In this case, and others around the nation, many people with keyboards have busily done their bit to encourage anarchy and obscure the truth by dishonestly portraying the police as racists who must be stopped.

What would have happened if the police hadn’t answered the call? Would Prude have survived the night on his own?

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