NEW YORK (Reuters) – The family of a Black man who died of asphyxiation last year while in police custody in Rochester, New York, charged the city on Monday with wrongfully causing his death, failing to properly train its officers and not holding them accountable.
In a lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Rochester, the estate of Daniel Prude accused officers of causing his death when they restrained him on the ground while he was naked during an apparent mental health crisis.
“The actions of these Defendants in forcing him to lay naked on the freezing pavement for a long period of time and taunting him while he begged for help was intentional and/or reckless,” said the 27-page complaint filed by one of Prude’s five children, Nathaniel McFarland, on behalf of his estate.
Besides the city, the complaint, which supersedes an earlier lawsuit filed by one of McFarland’s siblings, names several officers as defendants.
A spokesman for the city declined to comment but confirmed in an email that the officers involved remain suspended during an ongoing internal investigation.
Last month, a grand jury declined to indict any of the officers after an investigation into Prude’s death led by state Attorney General Letitia James.
The pre-dawn incident on March 23 did not come to light until September when family members released body-worn camera video that went viral.
The revelation followed other deaths of Black people at the hands of police, most notably George Floyd who died with an officer’s knee on his neck in a Minneapolis street.
The lawsuit accused three of the officers of using the “deadly force” of their body weight to cause Prude’s death while he was on the ground. Prude, 41, stopped breathing minutes later and died a week later when he was taken off life support.
The lawsuit seeks unspecified compensatory damages for Prude’s physical and emotional pain and suffering.
(Reporting by Peter Szekely in New York; Editing by Richard Chang)