Attorney General releases police body camera videos from Prude, Hodge arrests
The state Attorney General’s Office on Friday released six redacted video clips of Daniel Prude’s fatal encounter with Rochester Police officers, all of which came from the officers’ body-worn cameras. The Attorney General’s Office released the videos along with body and dash camera footage of Troy Hodge’s fatal encounter with police in Lockport.
The office has ongoing investigations into the death of both men, and it has convened a grand jury for its Prude inquiry.
“Our criminal justice system is in need of significant reform to rebuild the trust between police and the communities they serve,” Attorney General Letitia James said in a news release. “Key to that reform is increased transparency, which is why I am proactively releasing video footage from our active investigations into police-involved killings. All of our communities deserve transparency, accountability, and justice, and I believe this is a critical step in moving us forward.”
The longest video is about 12-and-a-half minutes long and, given the amount of body camera footage previously released by attorneys for the Prude family and activists, they are unlikely to contain any new revelations.
The longest of the videos, from the body-worn camera of officer Mark Vaughn, starts when the officer first encountered Prude, who was naked in the middle of Jefferson Ave. and clearly in mental distress. The six clips end when Prude, who suffocated and went unconscious while officers restrained him, was loaded into an ambulance for transport to Strong Memorial Hospital.
Prude died at Strong a week later. The Monroe County Medical Examiner’s Office in its autopsy report listed Prude’s caused of death as “complications of asphyxia in the setting of physical restraint due to excited delerium due to acute phencyclidine intoxication,” an indication that Prude might have been high on PCP.
Activists and attorneys for the Prude family have argued that officers used excessive force by restraining Prude, who was already handcuffed and not in possession of any weapon. News of his death fueled several weeks of protests against the Rochester Police Department, who on multiple occasions responded by firing PepperBalls and tear gas into the crowds.
Attorneys for the seven officers involved in the incident have countered that their clients were following their training and used a restraint technique known as segmentation, which they were taught during training sessions in January and February. They also noted that Prude was in a state of hyperthermia — meaning that he was overheating — which could have been caused by PCP intoxication.
The video from Troy Hodge's arrest is revealing.
Video labeled "Ofc. Barrancotta" begins by saying police were called by Hodge's mother for help and that she was present during the entire incident on Park Avenue in Lockport June 17, 2019. When officers arrived, "he was very paranoid" and uncooperative, Barrancotta said.
"Mom was very scared for him and his behavior. That's why she called us," the officer said.
Barrancotta said he initially tried to talk with Hodge, but it turned into "a tussle" that included the use of a taser on Hodge. There is no video of the actual incident from Barrancotta body camera.
A 25-minute-long video labeled "Dep. Finley" shows the deputy arriving on the scene when Hodge is already handcuffed and pinned to the ground by three male and two female police officers. When an ambulance arrives, Hodge appears to be unconscious.
"Hey," says one paramedic, shaking Hodge's arm, as he lies on a gurney.
"He's not breathing," says another paramedic. "We have no pulse, no nothing guys."
No one can be seen attempting CPR or providings oxygen to Hodge, then paramedics move him into the ambulance. The video continues, but the sound does not, as it appears Hodge's mother is talking to officers, but her face is blurred.
Video from "Dep. Austin" is next. Austin also arrives on the scene when Hodge is already restrained.
"I gotta check you out, to see if you got any weapons on ya," says an officer with Hodge.
"No. No. No, no. No," Hodge says throughout, as officers clear the contents of his pockets.
"Stop moving, You are under arrest," says an officer to Hodge. "Stop fighting."
Hodge says nothing after that, as officers ask what drug he may have taken. At this point, Hodge is lying face down on the ground and an officer appears to have a foot on the back of Hodge's neck. Hodge does not move after the foot is removed.
"He's fine. We're gonna get him some medical attention now," a female voice can be heard saying.
But as Hodge continues to remain motionless, another officer shakes Hodge.
"Troy. Hey, Troy. Troy. Troy, hey," the officer says as Hodge is lifted to a gurney. "He was just breathing." Pulse? No pulse?"
"Does anybody know what he's on?" a paramedic asks.
"No. No. We don't know," say several officers. "Suboxone history. Stuff like that."
"You want a Narcan?" Dep. Austin offers, as Hodge is placed into the ambulance. "He already got one?"
Austin then turns to Hodge's mother.
"Ma'am, what kind of history does he have?" he asks. "Relax. We're just trying to figure out what kind of history he has. Take a deep breath, okay? You're gonna help us and we're gonna help you."
Hodge's mother is then talking with police, as her son is taken away by ambulance and police take photos of what Hodge had in his pockets.
The final video is "Lt. Waroski," who arrives as Hodge is being loaded into the ambulance.
"Somebody's in the house. Somebody's in the house. He could've killed me. That why I called you," says Hodge's mother. "He kept saying, 'They're coming' for me. They're comin' for me.' I know my child's gone. I know he's gone."
"He's gonna be fine. He's on his way to the hospital," Waroski tells Hodge's mother. "Just have a seat and try to relax."
However, she continues to watch police as they photograph the contents of Hodge's pockets.