A lifelong friend of Daniel Prude, the Chicago man who died in police custody in Rochester, New York, after experiencing a mental health crisis, remembered the beloved father of five and called for change in wake of his death.
Prude, 41, who was Black, died when he was taken off life support March 30. That was seven days after officers who encountered him running naked through the street put a hood over his head to stop him from spitting, then held him down for about two minutes until he stopped breathing.
Prude lived in Chicago, and relatives said he worked at a bakery and a factory. They said he was generous and liked playing basketball and Call of Duty.
Just before his encounter with police, he was having mental health problems for the first time in his life, so he headed east to his brother’s house in Rochester, said attorney Elliot Shields, who is representing Joe Prude.
Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren announced the suspensions of seven officers at a news conference Thursday amid outrage that city officials had previously kept quiet about Prude’s death.
Those who knew the 41-year-old father, brother and son, including longtime friend Jim Allen, are feeling deep pain after learning about Prude's death.
"It was just devastating, and it still is, the way he died, and how he died," Allen said.
Allen, who grew up with Prude in Chicago's Lawndale neighborhood, says he will fight for his late friend and keep pushing for systemic change.
"We have to address the unconscious bias and the racism in our police department, in health care, in our financial institutions," he said.
A union leader on Friday defended the officers involved in the encounter, saying they were strictly following department training and protocols, including using the mesh hood to stop Prude from spitting.
“To me, it looks like they were watching the training in front of them and doing step by step what the training says to do,” said Michael Mazzeo, president of the Locust Club. “If there’s a problem with that, let’s change it.”