City Will Pay $12M in 'Spit Hood' Death

Rochester settles with family of Daniel Prude
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 6, 2022 12:45 PM CDT
Rochester Reaches Settlement With Daniel Prude's Family
This image made from police body camera video shows a Rochester police officer as he puts a hood over the head of Daniel Prude in Rochester, NY, on March 23, 2020.   (Rochester Police via Roth and Roth LLP via AP, File)

The city of Rochester, NY, has reached a settlement with the family of a Black man who died after police put a "spit hood" over his head and pressed his face into the pavement until he stopped breathing. Rochester Mayor Malik Evans said the city will pay $12 million to settle a wrongful death lawsuit from Daniel Prude's family—the largest civil-rights settlement in the city's history, the Democrat & Chronicle reports. "Given the costs of continued litigation, this settlement was the best decision," the mayor said Thursday. "It would have cost taxpayers even more to litigate, and would have placed a painful toll on our community."

Prude's relatives said the 41-year-old had been experiencing a mental health crisis when officers found him running naked through snowy streets in March 2020. His brother, Joe Prude, had been the one to call 911. Prude was hospitalized and died days later when he was taken off life support. The medical examiner said he died from "complications of asphyxia in the setting of physical restraint," with PCP as a contributing factor, per NBC News. His death led to protests and accusations of a cover-up. Meanwhile, the city withheld information on the case for months, and the seven officers involved were placed on paid suspension. A grand jury declined to indict them last year. "It is now time to look forward so we may work together and focus our efforts on Rochester's future," Malik said Thursday.

The settlement, which was approved by a federal judge, will go to Prude's five children, minus legal fees and other costs, the AP reports. "I think that it's an amount of money that is sufficient to show that the City of Rochester recognizes that something very bad happened and that it's very important for the city to put it in the rearview mirror and move forward," said lawyer Matthew Piers, who represents the administrators of Prude's estate. (More Daniel Prude stories.)

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