Drug Policy Alliance Statement on Rochester Police Killing of Daniel Prude

Press Release September 4, 2020
Media Contact

Matt Sutton 212-613-8026
[email protected]

New York, NY – In response to the abhorrent Rochester Police killing of Daniel Prude while he was suffering a mental health crisis–and the subsequent attempts to use allegations of substance use to blame him for his own murder–Melissa Moore, New York State Director for the Drug Policy Alliance, released the following statement:

“It’s horrific that a family member’s call for help during a mental health crisis resulted in Rochester police killing Daniel Prude. While his death has been officially ruled a homicide due to asphyxiation, it is absurd that the autopsy also lists “excited delirium,” a condition that is not even recognized by numerous health organizations, and PCP intoxication. This is reflective of a larger pattern where law enforcement attempts to blame people in the midst of a mental health crisis or allegedly under the influence of substances for their own death at the hands of police. Make no mistake, PCP intoxication and “excited delirium” did not kill Daniel Prude. Police violence killed Daniel Prude. The drug war that has diverted valuable resources away from community health and towards militarized policing killed Daniel Prude. 

We will not stand silent during yet another attempt to blame someone for their victimization simply because they reportedly used drugs. We cannot excuse violent police actions. We’ve seen this too many times. New York must stop operating in a way that prioritizes and values criminalization and demonization over health responses that center a person’s wellbeing when they’re in crisis. 

Governor Cuomo must make it abundantly clear that mental health and substance use should have nothing to do with police. He has the power to issue an executive order mandating that municipalities develop a plan for police reform to ensure that New York shifts its approach away from police and instead reallocate those resources to city and state health agencies, harm reduction programs, and community-based organizations – all of whom are better trained and equipped to address acute crises and actually keep our communities safe.”

A young woman holds a sign that says "End the Drug War."

Sign up for updates from DPA.