Rochester bishop calls for solidarity after Daniel Prude's death

Daniel Prude arrest March 30 arrest of Daniel Prude. | Rochester Police Department footage.

The Bishop of Rochester said Thursday that news of the death of Daniel Prude, who died after being arrested in the upstate New York city in March, is a source of sorrow, and a reminder of the Christian call to solidarity and justice.

"The recent news of the tragic death of Mr. Daniel Prude and the visible pain of his family cause a deep sorrow in the hearts of all. We pray for the repose of his soul and the consolation of his family and friends," Bishop Salvatore Matano said in a Sept. 3 statement.

"At the same time, we cannot cease yearning for peace, justice and truth in our land, where with the help of those dedicated to preserving our freedom and protecting us from all harm, we will achieve true and lasting peace," he added.

Daniel Prude died March 30, a week after he was arrested by Rochester police. Body camera footage of the arrest was released to the public last week.

In March, Daniel Prude, 41, visited his brother in Rochester from his home in Chicago. The father of five children, Prude suffered from mental health problems. On the night of March 23, as snow fell on the streets in Rochester, police responded to a 911 call. Prude was reportedly under the influence of PCP, and in the midst of a psychotic episode; he had spent hours in a local hospital struggling with suicidal thoughts, hallucinations, and, reportedly, drug induced delirium.

When police found Prude near downtown Rochester, he was naked, and had apparently broken a store window with a brick. A police officer ordered him to the ground, and he complied. Prude sat handcuffed on the ground for three minutes. At one point he said he had coronavirus. At another point, agitated, he asked an officer for his gun. After he spat on the ground several times police put a white hood on his head. Prude grew agitated, and tried to stand, while telling police officers to give him a gun.

Eventually a police officer held Prude facedown on the ground until he vomited and became unresponsive. Shortly thereafter, medics began CPR.

Prude, who was Black, died in the hospital a week later. While an internal investigation initially cleared officers of wrongdoing, seven officers have now been suspended amid a new investigation.

Protesters have taken to the streets in Rochester since body camera footage was released last week, demanding justice. Protests have called for police accountability, mentioning the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery.

In his statement, Bishop Matano cited a call from Pope Francis for solidarity.

"Authentic, Christian solidarity is not an emotion or fleeting compassion at the terrible misfortunes of another, rather it is a 'firm and persevering determination to commit oneself to the common good, that is to say, to the good of all and of each individual, because we are all really responsible for all,'" the bishop wrote, quoting Pope St. John Paul II.

"Committed to this reality, we continue to pray and work together for a more just society, where tensions are able to be reduced, where conflicts can be settled, where peace prevails, where life is sacred and reverenced, and where the virtues of the Gospel reconcile us to one another and to the Father."

"May God bless our efforts so all may know the peace and unity of Jesus Christ," Matano added.

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