Daniel Prude's children sue city and police, alleging history of ignored misconduct
The five children of Daniel Prude claim in a lawsuit against the city of Rochester that the city has ignored past allegations of police abuse, and the festering misconduct was one cause of the death of Prude at the hands of police.
This is the second federal lawsuit against the city and the police in the wake of the homicide of Prude, who died on March 30 after being restrained by police while he was naked and handcuffed behind his back.
An earlier lawsuit was brought by Prude's sister, but in the aftermath Prude's children, who were not acknowledged in the sister's lawsuit, were judged to be the rightful heirs. Courts have determined that they are the ones who can now sue on behalf of Prude's estate.
This lawsuit is similar to the first, with allegations that the police who restrained Prude were responsible for his death. A grand jury recently opted not to indict any of the officers on criminal charges.
City officials declined to comment Monday.
Police ill-prepared, lawsuit alleges
The police were ill-prepared to handle an individual undergoing a mental health crisis, as Prude was, and their restraint caused him to lose oxygen and later die, the lawsuit contends.
City officials "knew to a moral certainty that without training and policies in place to guide officers on how to interact with people experiencing mental health crises, police officers are likely to make choices and take actions during these encounters that will cause the deprivation of a citizen's constitutional rights, including either by using excessive force against them or denying them needed care, or both," the lawsuit states.
"Running through the streets, Mr. Prude sought help as he struggled with a severe mental health crisis," Rochester attorney Stephen Schwarz, one of the lawyers for Prude's children, said in a news release. "He asked for assistance. Instead he was killed, abused, asphyxiated due to excessive force, and then ignored when he could have been resuscitated."
The lawsuit contends that past confrontations between Rochester police and the mentally troubled in recent years shows that the city has done little to rein in police misconduct.
Also representing the children in the lawsuit is the Chicago firm of Hughes, Socol, Piers, Resnick & Dym.
In a remote news conference Monday, attorney Matthew Piers, the president of the firm Hughes, Socol, Piers, Resnick & Dym, said Prude was "suffering an acute mental health crisis and was desperately seeking help" when he was approached by police and restrained.
Piers noted that the threshold for success in a civil lawsuit is a "preponderance of evidence," a lesser demarcation that that necessary for a criminal conviction.
Contact Gary Craig at email@example.com or at 585-258-2479. Follow him on Twitter at gcraig1.