In the spring of 2020, Rochester, New York, had the potential for real police reform, with a promising Black mayor — the first woman ever elected as mayor of the city — and a Black police chief. But the death of Daniel Prude, a Black man in a mental health crisis who died at the hands of Rochester PD officers, drew attention in 2020 to the department’s questionable tactics and unnecessary force and violence. Joe Sexton reconstructs what happened the night Prude died, and the plays made in the months that followed by the mayor, police chief, and all involved to cover their asses. At over 15,000 words, Sexton’s narrative is compulsively readable from start to finish — a must-read on police, politics, and power.

Certainly, Warren’s and Singletary’s race didn’t guarantee a policing revolution in Rochester. There had been Black mayors and police chiefs in cities that had seen scandals — in Baltimore when Freddie Gray died; in Cleveland when young Tamir Rice was shot to death; and the Cleveland department was later found by the U.S. Justice Department to have engaged in years of excessive force.

Cheri Lucas Rowlands

Cheri has been an editor at Longreads since 2014. She's currently based in the San Francisco Bay Area.