NEW YORK (REUTERS) - Seven police officers were suspended on Thursday (Sept 3) over the arrest and asphyxiation death of black man Daniel Prude in Rochester, New York after video of the March incident was released, the city’s mayor said, calling it an act of racism.
Prude's family released on Wednesday body camera footage from his arrest in March, showing a group of officers in the upstate New York City putting a hood over his head - apparently to prevent his spit from possibly transmitting the novel coronavirus - as he knelt on the ground, handcuffed and naked.
Prude's family has called for the arrest of the officers involved in his death, which came seven days after the incident. Prude was 41.
The Monroe County medical examiner ruled Prude's death a homicide caused by "complications of asphyxia in the setting of physical restraint," according to an autopsy report, the New York Times reported.
"Mr Daniel Prude was failed by our police department, our mental health care system, our society, and he was failed by me," Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren, who is black, told reporters.
"We cannot continue to fail black lives in this way."
Prude's asphyxiation occurred two months before the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police, which spurred international protests against police brutality and racial injustice in the United States.
Prude's family obtained video of the arrest after filing a freedom of information act request, CBS-affiliate WROC-TV reported.
Rochester police chief La'Ron Singletary told reporters on Wednesday that internal and criminal investigations were underway.
Rochester police declined further comment on Thursday, and a lawyer for Prude's family did not immediately respond to a request for comment.