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The Rochester case raises new questions on police abuse and "spit hoods"

Screenshot 2020-09-04 at 9.13.44 a.m.In the criminal justice system, most of us have seen the use of "spit hoods" when a suspect or accused spits on officials or others. Such behavior is seen as particularly dangerous during the pandemic. However, for years the hoods have been associated with breathing problems and medical problems. Daniel Prude's death in Rochester sheds light on this controversy after a shocking video of a group of officials laughing as Prude, who was walking around the area naked, complained about his breathing. He died on March 30th after being released on a life support basis.

Prude, who is black, is featured on videotape sitting naked in the street while officials laugh at the scene on March 30th. An officer presses Prude & # 39; s face into the asphalt. While Prude is compliant at certain points, he is also yelled and at one point asked for an officer's weapon. He is obviously mentally unstable. He asks that the hood be removed at some point, but officers respond by telling him to calm down and stop spitting. Prude sounds increasingly desperate and says the officers are trying to kill him.

(embed) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_nJjRG9H-0E (/ embed)

Here is another video angle:

(embed) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZHefkY4cFo8 (/ embed)

A medical examiner concluded that Prude's death was a murder caused by "complications of asphyxiation with physical restraint".

As with George Floyd's death, the officers' attorneys are likely to point to a finding that lists excited delirium and acute poisoning from phencyclidine or PCP as contributing factors.

As I noted in the George Floyd case, when making arrests, officers must anticipate such drug complications and respond to clear medical emergencies.

In addition to the police abuse allegations in the Prude case, more attention needs to be paid to the use of these hoods and the effects on suspects' breathing. A suspect spitting is most likely to have drugs on their system that could affect breathing. It is not just the materials used in the hoods, but the protocols used by the police that need to be addressed after this dire case.

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