Washington Post by Hannah Knowles, Mark Berman, and Shayna Jacobs
September 25, 2020
Two months after the family of Daniel Prude tried to obtain police body-camera footage showing Prude naked, handcuffed and hooded on a Rochester, N.Y., street, nationwide protests against police violence were gaining momentum — and officials did not want the video to be made public.
“I’m wondering if we shouldn’t hold back on this for a little while considering what is going on around the country,” a police lieutenant wrote in a June email. Officials suggested citing an “open” investigation. Days later, they raised concerns about the medical privacy of Prude, who died a week after the video was filmed in March.
“Can we deny/delay?” a top city attorney wrote in a flurry of emails between city officials.
The video was ultimately given to Prude’s family after a months-long legal battle and made public, sparking outrage and protests and costing the police chief his job.
The case highlights what some families, victim advocates and lawyers say is a persistent issue amid a nationwide push for police transparency: As viral videos bring unprecedented scrutiny to police officers’ use of force, they allege that authorities are using and sometimes abusing the law to deny and delay the release of police records.