Members of Free the People ROC pushed their way into Rochester City Hall after calling a news conference outside the building on Wednesday.
The demonstrators entered the building, interrupting another news conference where Mayor Lovely Warren was addressing concerns over the death of Daniel Prude, 41, while in the custody of the Rochester Police Department. Prude died on March 30, a week after he was arrested by Rochester police.
The family of the Chicago man filed a claim in Monroe County probate court saying Prude died during an interaction with several RPD officers.
“The police have shown us over and over again that they are not equipped to handle individuals with mental health concerns. These officers are trained to kill, and not to deescalate. These officers are trained to ridicule, instead of supporting Mr. Daniel Prude,” said Ashley Gantt of Free the People ROC.
“There is no place for police who are fundamentally violent workers in responding to mental health emergencies,” said Stanley Martin of Free the People ROC.
Governor Cuomo issued an executive order in July asking for a special prosecutor to investigate whether there was any wrongdoing by law enforcement in Prude’s death.
During the city's news conference, Mayor Warren called video of Prude's arrest disturbing, however, she and RPD Chief La'Ron Singletary both said everything was done that could be done for Prude while he was in custody. Singletary says they take any in-custody death very seriously. According to Mayor Warren, the investigation is now out of their hands.
“How many more brothers got to die for society to understand that this needs to stop, and I can't even share with you all the pain that I’m feeling and my family's going through as well,” Joe Prude, Daniel Prude's brother, said.
Rochester's police union, the Locust Club, said normally, when someone dies in custody, the case is reviewed by the RPD, and if there is cause for further investigation in officer response, an internal investigation takes place. The Locust Club says that no internal investigation has taken place.