What Are Your Rights? Protest and Police Brutality

Recorded on September 9, 2020.

Seven Rochester police officers have been suspended following the release of video footage that shows Daniel Prude’s final interaction with law enforcement in March of this year. At one point in the video, Prude, who was suffering a psychotic episode can be seen sitting naked in the middle of a street with a mesh hood over his head and his hands cuffed behind his back.

Why might officers have placed a mesh hood over his head? And who investigates and prosecutes allegations against police in matters such as the Prude case?

Managing partner Paul Harding discusses the issue on CBS6.

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Announcer: The following segment is sponsored by Martin, Harding & Mazzotti.

Interviewer: Seven Rochester police officers have been suspended following the release of video footage that shows Daniel Prude’s final interaction with law enforcement in March of this year. At one point in the video, Prude, who was suffering a psychotic episode can be seen sitting naked in the middle of a street with a mesh hood over his head and his hands cuffed behind his back.

Here to discuss this issue is managing partner Paul Harding, from the law firm of Martin, Harding & Mazzotti. Paul, we’ll get right into it. Can you help us understand why Mr. Prude had a mesh hood over his head?

Paul: Well, they call it a spit hood and what it does, if the police officers feel that the person that they’re detaining is going to spit or bite them, it is a mesh hood they place over. Here, as you said, they witnessed someone naked running through the streets and when they stopped him, he said, allegedly, I have coronavirus, and began spitting or attempting to spit, so that’s the scene that we’re seeing unfold.

Interviewer: Now, this country we’ve witnessed months of protest in response to claims of systemic racism and police brutality against people of color. Can you help explain who investigates and prosecutes allegations in matters such as the Prude case?

Paul: Yeah. In all criminal matters in the state of New York, it’s gonna be the district attorney within the county that it occurred, but when you have what could be a perceived conflict because the police and district attorney work hand in hand together, they appoint what they call a special prosecutor. And that will be done here. Also, it can be the attorney general they can elect the step in, New York’s Attorney General, or it’ll be a district attorney from another county or someone else to prosecute.

Interviewer: So, what if any changes has the legislature in New York taken in response to continued reporting of incidents such as the one involving Prude?

Paul: Yeah. The word this year has been transparency. We’ve seen lots of laws passed through Albany about that. We’ve got three or four things. One of them, we got the body cameras, right? We’ve got police disciplinary records, which have been more readily released. And then we’ve got the ability to photograph or tape your own arrest. In the past, they would stop that.

So, you know, those types of things, transparency in the process is really what’s gonna help bring the community together so there’s not all these doubts about is this being investigated, is this outcome gonna be for the best, or is this an inside job? So, transparency is 2020’s legislative move.

Interviewer: All right, Paul. Thanks so much.

Paul: You’re welcome.

Interviewer: Of course, we’ve covered several topics with Paul Harding there. If you’d like to review them, recap them, head to our website, there’s a section, What Are Your Rights? there, you can just go to cbs6albany.com for all the topics that we’ve covered.

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