ATLANTA — Attorney General William Barr is criticizing the police chief of Rochester, New York, saying he just stood by while the character of his officers were being denigrated.
On Tuesday, the entire of command staff of the Rochester Police Department announced it would step down after officers were caught on camera putting a hood over a man who later died.
That man, Daniel Prude, died of asphyxiation and his death was ruled a homicide by the Monroe County Medical Examiner’s Office in New York.
Overnight protesters in Rochester painted graffiti calling officers murderers. The case is adding to the unrest around the country over police killings.
Channel 2 anchor Jovita Moore spoke with Dr. Cedric Alexander about the unrest. You may remember Alexander was once the police chief in DeKalb County, and before that he also served as an interim police chief for the Rochester Police Department.
Alexander is also a past president of the National Organization for Black Law Enforcement Officers, or NOBLE.
He told Moore that this latest case is concerning.
“What’s disturbing to me about that video itself is that it was clear that Mr. Prude was in a mental health crisis,” Alexander said. “But you had a struggle that ensued, and it’s a struggle, of course, that has become very questionable as to the cause of death. And that certainly is going to be determined. What occurred? How we got to that point? As you well the ME’s report has already been issued, declaring it as a homicide with asphyxiation.”
“Why do you think the officers would resort to putting a plastic bag over his head?” Moore asked Alexander.
“If you look closely at the video, you would see the deceased Mr. Prude, spitting. And of course, you have to remember, you have biological fluids and we’d just learned about the COVID crisis,” Alexander said. “So when he starts spitting in what he put over his head is referred to as a spit sock or spit cap. It is designed to be placed over your head. It does allow you to breathe no one was suffocate with it. But the optic and the image of it along with the entire scenario brings into question and creates a great deal of pause and concern for people because you have to consider a lot of people are looking at that video out of the eyes of George Floyd incident. So that make it even just that much more difficult for people to watch.”
The video of the incident was originally shot in March, but the video was released last week by Prude’s family.
It immediately got a lot of attention because of the optics of what happened.
“Now you have the police chief who is a Black man resigning. What does that say, with the chief resigning?” Moore asked Alexander.
“Well, it’s a lot that’s just going to come out in investigation as it relates to who knew what, when? Who said what to who? Who got the information? Who acted on the information? Why did it take six months for this video to reveal itself? And it certainly creates a lot of questions in the minds of people,” Alexander said.
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