Officer in Daniel Prude death faces departmental discipline

Rochester Police Death

One of several police officers seen on video pinning down Daniel Prude, a Black man who died after being detained on a street in upstate New York, could face departmental discipline, the Rochester Police Department said.

Officer Mark Vaughn is the only officer to be served with “departmental charges” Thursday following an internal investigation of the police response to Prude, whose death sparked nightly protests and led to the suspension of seven officers.

Vaughn was cited for unnecessary or excessive force and discourteous/unprofessional conduct, the department said Friday. A formal hearing will be held later, followed by a hearing officer's recommendation for potential discipline.

Prude, 41, of Chicago, died in March 2020, a week after being held by officers against the pavement until he stopped breathing after he bolted from his brother’s home and shed his clothes during an apparent mental health episode.

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.

The six other officers, who with Vaughn have been on paid suspension during the investigation, “will be initially assigned to Professional Development to ensure they are up to date on any policies and procedures,” the police department statement said.

Also Friday, police released a 23-minute video tracing Prude's movements from his arrival in Rochester the afternoon of March 22 to visit his brother Joe Prude to his fatal encounter with police in the pre-dawn hours March 23.

The video, pieced together from surveillance camera footage, cellphone and 911 recordings and police body camera video, shows a disoriented Prude walking and running barefoot for about a mile through dark and largely dese