By Vatican News
41-year-old Daniel Prude was suffering from mental health issues when police detained him in March. Body camera footage of his arrest shows Mr Prude, a black man and father of five, being hooded and his face held down to the pavement for two minutes. He died of asphyxiation one week later in hospital.
The footage, obtained by the man’s family through a public records request, shows Mr Prude, who had been running naked through the streets before police arrived, lying unarmed, complying with the officers’ requests as they restrain him on the ground.
After telling police officers that he was infected with coronavirus, they are seen placing a “spit hood” over his head – a mesh fabric hood placed over the heads of suspects to protect officers from a detainee’s saliva.
One officer is seen pressing down with both hands on Mr Prude’s head and is heard saying “stop spitting.” Mr Prude stopped moving and went quiet and was taken off in an ambulance after medics tried to revive him. He was taken off life support a week later on 30 March.
Mr Prude’s death took place two months before the killing of George Floyd sparked global outrage. Mr Floyd died in May after a white policeman knelt on his neck for nearly eight minutes.
In more recent weeks, another black man, Jacob Blake, also became victim of police brutality in the United States, after he was shot in the back seven times – leaving him paralysed.
US Bishops react
The shooting of Jacob Blake prompted the Catholic Bishops of the United States to invite the faithful to observe a day of prayer and fasting on 9 September, so as to “reiterate the value of those whose human life and dignity in this country are marginalized through racism and our need to fight for them.”
Following George Floyd’s death, Bishop Shelton J. Fabre of Houma-Thibodaux, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Ad Hoc Committee Against Racism, stated “we should all understand that the protests we are seeing in our cities reflect the justified frustration and anger of millions of our brothers and sisters who even today experience humiliation, indignity, and unequal opportunity only because of their race or the color of their skin. It should not be this way in America. Racism has been tolerated for far too long in our way of life”.