Police use of spit hoods scrutinised after Black man's death

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The head of Rochester, New York's police union on Friday (Sept 4) defended the actions of officers involved in the March arrest of Mr Daniel Prude, a black man whose death triggered protests, saying they followed protocols in using a hood to restrain him.

Messages left with the union representing Rochester police officers were not immediately returned Thursday.

"Institutional and structural racism led to Daniel Prude's death".

The decision came one day after the man's family released shocking video of his death.

Three officers are then seen pushing Prude to the ground and pinning him while he continues to shout and spit and eventually vomit, according to the video and police report.

'To me, it looks like they were watching the training in front of them and doing step by step what the training says to do, ' he said on Friday.

NY attorney general Letitia James's office took over the investigation of the death in April, which is still ongoing.

An autopsy report from the Monroe County Medical Examiner's Office determined that Prude died as a result of "complications of asphyxia in the setting of physical restraint due to excited delirium due to acute phencyclidine intoxication", which is "an indication that Prude might have been high on PCP". Many demonstrators could be seen wearing goggles and carrying umbrellas as they marched toward police barricades chanting "Black Lives Matter".

Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren told press: "I want everyone to understand that at no point in time did we feel that this was something that we wanted not to disclose".

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"Spit hoods can cause extreme distress and restricted breathing", Justin Mazzola, the deputy director of research at Amnesty International USA, said in a statement.

She added that if Prude had been white, he would have been treated differently.

Prude, who was black, then becomes increasingly agitated and is held face-first to the ground, with an officer's knee to his back.

"OK, stop. I need it".

Just hours before his fatal encounter with police, Prude, who was in Rochester to visit his brother, was taken by police for a mental health evaluation after he was said to have expressed suicidal thoughts.

Joe Prude told officers, in footage captured on body cameras, that his brother had arrived in Rochester from Chicago - where he lived with his sister - on March 22. Prude was reported to be compliant with officers' request for him to sit down in the street and put his hands behind his back.

Police declared Friday night's protest an "unlawful assembly" following a peaceful gathering at Martin Luther King Jr. "They are especially risky when someone is already in crisis as Daniel Prude appeared to be". At the time, his brother Joe had contacted 911 saying that his sibling had begun suffering a mental health episode. Officers also notice water coming out of Prude's mouth and call the medics, who start cardiopulmonary resuscitation, or CPR, to revive him. 41-year-old Prude can be heard shouting. "This is just one of a number of cases of people being suffocated by police and illustrates the need for systemic police reform".

The seven officers involved have been suspended.

Peter Aitken is a NY born-and-raised reporter with a focus on national and global news.

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