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For Immediate Release

Press Release

Use of Spit Hood in NY Case Illustrates Systemic Issues Within Police Force


Responding to news of the death of Daniel Prude, an unarmed Black man who died in Rochester, New York State in March after being hooded by police and held face down for two minutes following a call for help when he was in mental health crisis, Justin Mazzola, the deputy director of research at Amnesty International USA said:

The appalling circumstances of Daniel Prude’s death illustrate many of the problems within the police force, including systemic racism, the use of potentially dangerous spit hoods, and excessive use of force against a man exhibiting signs of mental illness. People should not die when they call the police for help.

Video footage shows Daniel Prude complying with police orders, yet officers forced a hood over his head and held him face down on the pavement. Instead of de-escalating the situation, police treated Daniel Prude in a distressing and humiliating way.

Spit hoods can cause extreme distress and restricted breathing. They are especially dangerous when someone is already in crisis as Daniel Prude appeared to be. This is just one of a number of cases of people being suffocated by police and illustrates the need for systemic police reform.

There must be a thorough investigation into Daniel Prude’s death, as part of a wide-ranging reform of policing practices. Daniel Prude and his family have a right to justice.


Read about deadly force and police accountability.

Report: Grasping the Nettle: Ending Europe’s Trade in Execution and Torture Technology (May 27, 2015)

Report: The World is Watching: Mass Violations by US Police of Black Lives Matter Protesters’ Rights, (August 4, 2020)

Interactive map: Amnesty International Documents Widespread Police Violence Against Protesters for Black Lives (June 23, 2020)

Report: Deadly Force: Police Use of Lethal Force in the United States (July 17, 2015)

Report: On the Streets of America: Human Rights Abuses in Ferguson (October 23, 2014)


Amnesty International is a global movement of millions of people demanding human rights for all people – no matter who they are or where they are. We are the world’s largest grassroots human rights organization.

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