Rochester, NY— The public learned yesterday of the murder of Daniel Prude on March 23, 2020 by Rochester police officers, after nearly 6 months of inaction by City of Rochester and Rochester Police Department officials. We are disgusted. We are devastated. We are horrified by the complicity of elected officials, from Mayor Lovely Warren to Governor Cuomo, who have long promised reform, but sidestep when it comes time to hold police accountable or invest in alternatives to policing.
Rochester Police responded to a concerned call from Daniel’s brother. Daniel was experiencing a mental health crisis and needed help. Instead of helping, police put a hood over Daniel’s head and pressed his face into the pavement for two minutes, suffocating him to death. None of the officers involved in Daniel’s murder have been disciplined. They are still on active duty. The callous disregard shown for the life of Daniel Prude cannot go unanswered.
In June, while the “investigation” into the killing of Daniel Prude was ongoing but not public, Mayor Lovely Warren and the Rochester City Council pushed through a $100 million budget for the police department and approved the construction of a new 20,000 square foot, $16 million police station.
The police officers who murdered Daniel Prude must be held accountable and so too must elected officials who continue to enable the brutalization of Black and Brown people by the police. Rochester, and communities across New York State, must shift resources away from police and violent interventions and make meaningful investments in housing, health care, public schools and support services that keep people safe.
We join with Free the People Roc in calling on the City of Rochester and the Rochester Police Department to:
- Immediately terminate and arrest all officers involved, including Mark Vaughn, Troy Taladay, and Fransisco Santiago.
- Immediately terminate all the officers who were at the scene and failed to intervene to save Daniel’s life: Andrew Specksgoor, Josiah Harris, Sgt. Michael Magri, Paul Ricotta, Lt. Gregory Bello
- Immediately terminate the officers involved in the cover-up: Sergeant Flamur Zenelovic, Investigator Randy Benjamin, and Investigator Michael Houlihan
- Mayor Lovely Warren and the Rochester City Council must pass legislation forbidding officers from responding to mental health calls. We must create an alternative to police for emergency response, staffed by Mental Health Professionals, trained in the use of clinical treatment techniques, and prohibited from using force.
Citizen Action of New York is a statewide grassroots membership organization with eight chapters and affiliates across New York State working to achieve social, racial, economic and environmental justice in our communities. We take on big issues that are at the center of transforming society and work to elect progressive candidates to office who are committed to these issues. Our power comes from the grassroots: people coming together to push the edge of the possible.