Not five minutes after police slipped a "spit hood" over Daniel Prude's head, the 41-year-old Black man went limp. A week later, he was taken off life support.
His death has underscored one of the top demands of the police reform movement: that certain duties should not be handled by law enforcement but by social workers or mental health experts. Seven officers involved in the encounter were suspended with pay Thursday.
While many in law enforcement defend the hoods as vital to prevent officers from being spit on or even bitten -- a concern that has taken on new importance during the coronavirus pandemic -- critics have denounced them as dangerous and inhumane.
Prude, in Rochester to visit his brother, was taken by police for a mental health evaluation just hours before the fatal encounter after he was said to have expressed suicidal thoughts. Prude's brother told police he was calm when he returned to his house but later got high on PCP and ran away, prompting the brother to call 911.
Police found Prude wandering the street naked after allegedly smashing a storefront window, and he could be seen on body camera footage spitting in the direction of officers and heard claiming to be infected with coronavirus. Officers said that led them to employ the hood.
Prude, handcuffed by this point, can be seen continuing to spit through the mesh and saying that he wanted an officer's gun. The officers then pinned him to the ground, one of them keeping a knee on his back and another pressing his face into the pavement for two minutes. Both appeared white.
Minutes later, an officer could be heard saying, "Ugh, he's puking." After realizing Prude had stopped breathing, paramedics who had arrived at some point, began CPR.
This was more of a drug addiction problem than a mental health problem. The guy snorted too much angel dust (PCP) and was having a bad trip.
Phencyclidine (PCP) is a mind-altering drug that may lead to hallucinations (a profound distortion in a person’s perception of reality). It is considered a dissociative drug, leading to a distortion of sights, colors, sounds, self, and one's environment.
High doses of PCP can also cause seizures, coma, and death (often due to accidental injury or suicide during PCP intoxication). Psychological effects at high doses include delusions and hallucinations. Users often refer to the experiences from hallucinogens as a "trip", or calling an unpleasant experience a "bad trip."
In a hospital or detention setting, they often become violent or suicidal, and are very dangerous to themselves and to others.
- Albert Einstein