Tragically, police officers are rarely held accountable for their actions. Cases like Breonna Taylor, Eric Garner, Tamir Rice, and many others will never see justice. Could the officers in Daniel Prude’s murder elude justice as well? October 23, marked the seventh month anniversary of Daniel Prude’s murder. Yet, we still have more questions than answers. As we await the decision of the Attorney General’s investigation, it is important to revisit startling information regarding that heinous cold snowy night.
Many of us, have been traumatized by the brutal images of Daniel Prude’s murder. Unfortunately, comparing the statements made in the police reports provided by Officer Mark Vaughn, Officer Troy Taladay, and EMT Brett Barnes is even more concerning. These reports paint Daniel as an out of control madman who resisted arrest. But, the video showed a confused helpless man drifting in and out of reality, yet attempting to comply with officers. Prude’s demeanor in the video was a cry for help, not a man looking for a confrontation with the police.
However, Officer Mark Vaughn, the officer responsible for placing the spit sock over Daniel’s head and using the Hypoglossal Nerve Technique, needed to paint him as a “suspect” not a victim. The officer in question, admitted to jamming fingers under Daniel’s jaw, a tactic known as Hypoglossal Nerve Technique. Could this technique be the cause of death? The video appeared to show Vaughn tightening the spit sock around Daniel’s neck and eventually suffocating him. The medical examiner’s report ruled Daniel’s cause of death, as a homicide with complications of asphyxia in the setting of physical restraint.
In the police reports of Taladay & Vaughn, a series of questions answered contradicts the video. The following questions were listed and checked off by both officers(Taladay did not list that he performed the Hypoglossal Nerve Technique).
Question 12 Subjects actions - Subject resisted by (check all that apply and explain in narrative)
Checked: Avoiding Custody( May include: Nonresponse, verbal refusal, using body as “dead weight” running/walking away, bracing/tensing body, pulling away, locking arms underbody, holding onto a fixed object)
Checked: Assaultive (May include: fighting stance, combative approach, punching, kicking, biting, tackling)
Question 13 Tactic Effectiveness check the appropriate box indicating whether the tactics used, write the number (1, 2,3…) indicating what order that tactics were used in column one. In column two, write E for Effective, ME for Moderately Effective, and NE for Not Effective
Both Taladay and Vaughn checked off Verbal tactic as 1 and NE, Ground Stabilization (i.e. 3-Point Landing, going manipulation) tactic 2 and E, Vaughn checked Hypoglossal Nerve 3 and E.
Taladay stated Prude was handcuffed and continually tried to get up. He claimed he instructed Daniel to remain on the ground while waiting for AMR to arrive on the scene. That is when Daniel began to spit in his direction and stated, “Gimme that gun!”. He then claimed Daniel made a direct movement to get up in his direction after making comments about wanting his gun. He stated, he then placed his right knee on the center of Daniel’s back, grabbed Daniel’s right wrist with his right hand, and the right elbow of Daniel with his left hand in order to stabilize his body. Taladay goes on to say that once Daniel became less resistant he relieved pressure from his back and arm. Taladay remained in a squatting position on the left side of Daniel while monitoring inhalation by observing the movement of Daniel’s back. When it appeared that Daniel was not breathing, he rolled him on his left side to help Daniel recover. According to Taladay, AMR immediately began life-saving measures.
Vaughn statement claimed, “The male began spitting and I performed a hypoglossal nerve technique left side of his jaw in order to prevent him from spitting on officers based on the fact that he had already previously spit through the spit sock. Once Prude became calm I relieved downward pressure. I noticed a clear liquid coming from Prude’s mouth area and began observing his back in order to see his respirations. It appeared that Prude was not breathing properly and I had officers roll him to a recovery position on his left side. I then felt for his pulse, which I did not feel. AMR, who was already on the scene immediately began life-saving measures and transported Prude to Strong Hospital.”
Officer Taladay’s report claimed he was waiting on AMR to arrive. However, AMR’s EMT Brett Barnes confirmed in his statement that, he and Julie Purick waited to be cleared by officers before arriving on the scene. The video showed Daniel was on the ground and handcuffed within seconds of his encounter with police. So, why would AMR be stationed at Broad St and W Main? Once cleared and on the scene, Barnes stated he could not be certain if 3 or 4 officers were detaining Daniel, but Daniel was behaving erratically and uncontrollably. Barnes was asked to explain what he meant by “erratically and uncontrollably”. Barnes claimed that meant Daniel was fidgeting and moving every muscle. So, a nude man pinned to the ground by 3 or 4 officers was “fidgeting and moving every muscle” in a snowstorm, is that surprising? Could those actions be described as behaving “erratically and uncontrollably”? Did Barnes story change because he witnessed something that forced him to quit his job and possibly relocate to Connecticut?
Honestly, we may never know everything that happened that night. But, we do know, the narrative painted within the police report is alarming when comparing it to the video. The claims of resisting arrest are simply not true. These officers did not make any attempt to get Daniel the help he needed. Several of them laughed and mocked a man that would eventually leave blood on all their hands. We expect more from our police officers and these actions alone should be considered criminal.