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2 protesters charged for alleged attacks on police during Rochester demonstration

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(WASHINGTON) — Two protesters who took part in Saturday night’s protest in Rochester, New York, were charged for allegedly assaulting police officers, federal prosecutors said.

Adam Green, of Dansville, New York, and Dallas Williams-Smothers, of Rochester, both 20, were charged in the Western District of New York with civil disorder for two incidents during Saturday’s demonstration, according to U.S. Attorney James P. Kennedy Jr. The protesters were part of about 1,500 people who took to the streets in response to the death of Daniel Prude at the hands of officers in March.

The complaints contend that both men used weapons to attack police officers who were trying to disperse the crowd.

Green allegedly swung a wooden shield at a police officer, striking the officer in the forehead of his helmet, according to the criminal complaint. The officer suffered a cut and abrasion on the bridge of his nose, the complaint said.

Williams-Smothers allegedly ignited a “mortar-style commercial-grade firework” and threw it at officers, the complaint said. The device exploded and created a “risk of serious injury to officers,” though no one was hurt, according to the complaint.

The charges came from arrests made by local officers following an aggressive night of protests that stemmed from the release of body camera footage from the March 23 incident between officers and Prude.

Prude’s brother, Joe, called 911 to get help, saying Daniel was having a mental health emergency.

In the video, officers approached Prude, 41, who was naked, and he initially complied with the officers’ orders. Prude was subsequently seen shouting and spitting, which prompted officers to place a spit bag over his head.

The officers are then seen pinning Prude to the ground while the bag is still on his head and he eventually goes lifeless. Prude died a week later.

New York State Attorney General Letitia James is overseeing the investigation into Prude’s death and said she will empanel a grand jury. Seven officers who were involved in the incident have been suspended with pay.

On Tuesday, Rochester Police Chief La’Ron Singletary announced he would retire at the end of the month with six other police leaders announcing they would retire or vacate their positions.

The announcement of charges against two protesters came on the same day the leader of the city’s police union, President Mike Mazzeo, called on Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren to resign. The mayor countered with asking him to step down, saying, “the problem with policing in Rochester are cops like cops like Mike Mazzeo that watch the video of Daniel Prude’s death and see nothing wrong.”

“Mike Mazzeo and his ilk exist only to protect and serve themselves, and certainly not the people of the City of Rochester,” Warren said in a statement. “It is time for Mike Mazzeo to resign, because his archaic ways of policing are no longer wanted in the City of Rochester.”

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