Weeks before George Floyd died in police custody, a man visiting Rochester was taken into custody, naked in the middle of the street on a cold March night.
Now five months after his death, his family, and those fighting for racial equality, want justice for Daniel Prude.
An autopsy report ruled Prude's death a homicide. Social justice groups in Rochester call it a murder. They joined Prude's brother on the steps of city hall Wednesday to demand answers from police and the mayor.
Prude had visited Rochester from Chicago. The night of March 23, his brother called Rochester police to Jefferson Avenue to help the 41-year old during a reported mental health episode.
"Mr. Prude was naked, defenseless, unarmed and suffering a mental health crisis," said Stanley Martin of Free the People ROC.
Police video released by the Prude family and Free the People ROC shows two officers pinning Prude in the middle of the street. Another held his head down. A mesh bag was placed over Prude's head after he told police he had COVID-19 and spit at officers.
For two minutes, officers pinned him to the cold pavement, one using a "pushup" stance on Prude's back. He remained naked as he was taken into custody.
Prude lost consciousness during the restraint. He was taken to the hospital and placed on life support. He died on March 30.
An autopsy reported Prude had angel dust in his system.
Sources tell Spectrum News Prude died of complications of asphyxia in the setting of physical restraint-due to exited dilirium due to acute phencyclidine - or angel dust- intoxication. The death was ruled a homicide.
His brother blamed the police response.
"That was a full-fledged, ongoing, murder- cold blooded," Joe Prude said.
Racial justice advocates and protesters and Prude's family want the three officers suspended and charged with Prude's death and the police force defunded. They accused the mayor and police chief of covering up the case.
"Daniel was treated inhumanely and without dignity. Treated as less than the officers who pushed him down, choked him out until his last breath," said Ashley Gantt of Free the People ROC.
Activists stormed city hall after the mayor called a news conference. When they broke through security and pushed through a glass door entrance to the landmark's second-floor atrium, the event was moved to police headquarters.
Mayor Lovely Warren extended her condolences to the Prude family. She and the RPD administration had known about the episode from day one. She said she was disturbed by the police video.
"And we're going to do everything we can to hold someone accountable," said Warren. "In this particular instance, this is not within our control."
It is not in the city, or its police department's control any longer because the state attorney general's office is now running the investigation.
On Thursday, the Rochester Police Locust Club, a union representing 740 law enforcement officers in the city of Rochester released a statement:
Following George Floyd's death, and other lethal incidents involving police response, Governor Andrew Cuomo signed an executive order to have Letitia James' office look into every death of an unarmed citizen- in police custody. The order was established so that no local law enforcement agency would run an investigation into its own officers.
Cuomo amended the order to include Daniel Prude's case, which happened after the order was signed.
In fact, Rochester's police chief had immediately ordered criminal and internal investigations into the Prude case.
It began prior to the governor's executive order and ended when it was signed.
Chief La'Ron Singletary said at no time did the RPD or the city attempt to suppress the Prude investigation.
"We don't have a problem holding anyone accountable, but we have to let the investigation take its course."
Singletary said the officers have at this point not faced discipline for their response. The chief said the RPD would have suspended the officers had there been clear evidence they had responded inappropriately.
Prude's family says it still plans to sue the city.
The state attorney general's office says the investigation into Prude's death is ongoing.