Rochester city officials claim the head of the police union lied about when he received the bodycam footage of Daniel Prude’s suffocation death that has led to week-long protests in New York’s third-largest city.
The city published the emails on Thursday showing that Police Locust Club President Mike Mazzeo was sent the bodycam footage back in April.
Mazzeo had said that he saw the bodycam video of the 41-year-old black man’s encounter with police for the first time last week when his family released it publicly.
The emails, obtained by WROC, show he was included on email chains dating back to April that included the footage.
Mazzeo is standing by his previous comments that he hadn’t previously seen the footage.
Rochester city officials claim the head of the police union, Mike Mazzeo, lied about when he received the bodycam footage of Daniel Prude’s suffocation death that has led to week-long protests in New York’s third-largest city
In a statement after the emails emerged, Mazzeo said he is copied in on requests for bodycam footage following an incident but doesn’t review them until an internal investigation is underway.
‘In order of complete transparency, I did not review the videos of the Prude incident on April 2, 2020 as no internal investigation had commenced. In fact, the first time I saw any video related to Mr Prude was after the press conference which aired on September 2, 2020,’ he said.
‘When requesting Body Worn Camera (BWC) videos after an incident, I am copied in those and all similar requests for information. This is done to acknowledge the designee requesting the videos or information is authorized to make the request on behalf of our organization. Our requests are sent to the BWC unit which follows their internal processes for releasing the videos to the union, per protocol.
‘If an internal investigation commences, a review of the videos will then be started in the course of our representative responsibilities for our members. The union had no information that there was any need for an internal investigation or that there were any concerns with the actions of our members.
‘As I have stated before, we have no information relative to when, how, nor what, the Mayor was advised from the department regarding the Prude incident. The union is not a part of discussions between the Chief of Police and the Mayor.
The city published the emails on Thursday showing that Police Locust Club President Mike Mazzeo was sent the bodycam footage back in April
The emails, obtained by WROC , show he was included on email chains dating back to April that included the footage
‘For City Hall to suggest that the union is a part of some type of cover-up, with her own appointed Chief of Police, is absurd.’
The email chain emerged after Mazzeo called for Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren to resign amid criticism over the handling of Prude’s death back in March.
Rochester police chief La’Ron Singletary, his Deputy Chief Joseph M Morabito and Chief of Administration Mark L. Simmons all announced their shock resignations earlier this week following a week of protests.
At the time, the police chief said in a statement that events over the past week were an attempt to destroy his ‘character and integrity’.
Details emerged last week of Prude’s death several days after his encounter with police in Rochester on March 23.
Rochester, a city of 200,000 people on Lake Ontario, has erupted with protests in the week since the Prude family released body camera footage of the arrest.
Officers who found Prude running naked down the street had put a hood over his head to stop him from spitting, then held him down for about two minutes until he stopped breathing.
He died a week later after he was taken off life support.
Prude, a 41-year-old black man, died several days after an encounter with police on March 23. His death sparked outrage after his relatives last week released police body camera video showing police putting a hood over his head to stop him from spitting and then holding him down for about two minutes until he stopped breathing
There have been nightly protests ever since details of Prude’s death emerged last week. The 41-year-old black man is pictured above
His brother, Joe Prude, had called 911 seeking help for Prude’s unusual behavior. He had been taken to a hospital for a mental health evaluation earlier that night but was released after a few hours, his brother told officers.
The outrage over his death started after his relatives released the bodycam footage and written reports they obtained through a public records request.
Seven police officers were suspended a day later and state Attorney General Letitia James said on Saturday that she would form a grand jury and conduct an ‘exhaustive investigation’ into Prude’s death.
Police union officials, including Mazzeo, have said the officers were following their training.
The release of the footage five months after Prude’s death had raised questions of a cover-up and turned Rochester into the latest flashpoint in a summer of protests over racial injustice first sparked by the May 25 death of George Floyd.
The Mayor has since called on Mazzeo to resign as the police union boss.
‘For 30 years, the problem with policing in Rochester are cops like Mike Mazzeo that watch the video of Daniel Prude’s death and see nothing wrong.
‘Who believe there is nothing wrong with driving Mr Prude’s head into the street. Who believe there is nothing wrong with other officers standing by, joking and failing to intervene while Mr Prude is dying. Who think its fine to just casually ignore him as he takes his last breath, and then callously and falsely inform his brother who begged for him not to be harmed.
‘Mike Mazzeo and his ilk exist only to protect and serve themselves, and certainly not the people of the City of Rochester.
‘It is time for Mike Mazzeo to resign, because his archaic ways of policing are no longer wanted in the City of Rochester.’
Rochester Police chief La’Ron Singletary and his Deputy Chief Joseph M. Morabito are among those who have retired amid criticism of the city’s handling of the suffocation death of Daniel Prude
Rochester Police Department’s Deputy Chief Joseph M. Morabito (left) and Chief of Administration Mark L. Simmons (right) have also retired