MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:
Police officers have been suspended in response to the asphyxiation death of Daniel Prude in Rochester, N.Y. Prude died in March a week after officers put a hood designed to stop him from spitting over his head and held him handcuffed and naked on a Rochester street. The medical examiner in Monroe County ruled Prude's death a homicide. The case got little attention until this week, though. NPR's Liz Baker is in Rochester. She joins me now. Hey there, Liz.
LIZ BAKER, BYLINE: Hi.
KELLY: So as we noted, this happened in March - six months ago. Now the mayor has just announced the officers involved will be suspended while an investigation plays out. Why now? Why the delay?
BAKER: Well, the delay - basically, the mayor says that because the attorney general's office has launched an investigation after the incident, that precluded the city and the police department from launching their own investigations. And she claimed that all day yesterday protesters said that was a cover-up and it wasn't good enough. And today the attorney general clarified that they had not asked the city of Rochester or the Rochester Police Department to refrain from launching an investigation, and she encouraged the city to launch their own investigations. And then right after that, the mayor announced the suspension.
KELLY: So it sounds like some back-and-forth there between local bureaucracies. Remind us just what happened on that March night. How did Daniel Prude come into contact with these police officers?
BAKER: It was actually a mental health wellness call. His brother Joe Prude called the police after his brother started acting strange. He left the house wearing hardly any clothes, and it was cold and snowing. He started wandering the streets and yelling, and so he called the police because his brother had a history of mental illness. The police, of course, showed up, and that encounter did not go as planned. He ended up receiving CPR, being taken to hospital and dying a week later after being asphyxiated.
KELLY: And I gather we are - we said the case was not getting much attention. Now we're hearing all about it. This is because the police video came into the family's hands.
BAKER: Yes. The family lawyers - they issued a public information request for the video and other documents relating to this case. They got that, saw the video, saw how bad it was and released an edited version to local media. And things took off from there.
KELLY: Yeah, and it's painful to watch. I was taking a look at it. It's very difficult to watch and to listen to. You mentioned, Liz, that there have been protests because of this. News of Daniel Prude's death has brought protesters into the streets of Rochester. That was last night. Can you describe a little bit what happened and what the mayor came out and said?
KELLY: Sure. Well, the mayor held a press conference yesterday, and protesters tried to get in and were barred from entering. They protested out in the streets in front of city hall and in front of the public safety building and were moved back by police with tear gas. They then moved onto the site of the incident, where they have been peacefully protesting pretty much all last night and into today.
KELLY: OK. That's NPR's Liz Baker joining us from Rochester, N.Y., and updating us on the news there coming out today. Seven police officers have been suspended. This is in response to the death of Daniel Prude back in March in Rochester. Liz, thank you very much for your reporting.
BAKER: Thank you.
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