Explosive allegations of coverup after fatal police encounter in Rochester

New documents in the case of Daniel Prude, including emails, showed that police leaders tried to keep body cam video of his death a secret in fear of public response.
5:11 | 09/17/20

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Transcript for Explosive allegations of coverup after fatal police encounter in Rochester
We get to those allegations of a cover-up over Daniel prude's fatal police encounter in Rochester, New York. Newly released emails say police tried to keep body camera of it a secret because they feared the public's response. T.J. Holmes has the latest. Reporter: There is a section of the police report where a police officer is supposed to nil in the victim type. Daniel prude was initially identified simply as an individual. But someone came back and wrote on that police report make him a suspect. That is just one of hundreds of documents we are now seeing that appeared to show a coordinated, deliberate effort to change the narrative and also keep the public from seeing another video that would shock the country. Are you Daniel? Yes, sir. Reporter: This video of Daniel prude's deadly encounter with police sparked outrage and protests in Rochester, New York. But police leaders, city and state officials appeared to work behind the scenes for months to keep the public from seeing it. That's according to newly released documents. Prude's brother speaking out exclusively to ABC since those documents were released claims that from the start, the information being given to the family just wasn't adding up. It all came out, everything that I felt was the truth. Reporter: Prude died in March, but after George Floyd's death in may, Rochester officials became concerned about, quote, potentially violent blowback in the community to the video. A deputy Rochester police chief writing, we certainly do not want people to misinterpret the officers' actions and conflate this incident with any recent killings of unarmed black men by law enforcement nationally. The documents also showing that officials appear to discuss different tactics for delaying the video's release to the public including inviting a lawyer for the prude family to watch the video in a private meeting provided he agrees to sign an agreement that he cannot scan, copy or otherwise attempt to row produce the information. The documents that have now been released reveal an intentional and a detailed cover-up. Reporter: Rochester police union president Michael mazio thinks they're all about assigning blame. I think that what we're seeing here is politics first, agendas first and not what we should be focusing on which is moist important in the case. Reporter: Framing the narrative for the public they were concerned about, it suggests, a suggested change to a police report to call prude a suspect. Prude died in the hospital a week after this March 23rd incident captured on police body cam. Prude's family had initially called police to report he was having a mental emergency. The next step for me and with them is to let my lawyers do what they do best, bring forth justice for the family. Reporter: Now, the seven officers involved in the encounter have been suspended. The police chief was fired. The interim police chief, though, George, mark Simmons, he was one of the people that the documents show was advocating for not releasing the video. Okay, T.J., thanks very much. Let's bring in Dan Abrams for more on this. Dan, you hear cover-up. You think trouble. Could there be any justifiable reason for keeping this body cam video secret? Well, look, from the police perspective they're going to say they didn't want it misinterpreted and they'll say that they didn't want it out ever, but they didn't want it out now. It is never helpful when you are in the position of trying to defend why you were trying to prevent it from being released. The more important issue, though, is going to be what's on the video? What are they doing on the video? That's going to be critical. I would say of all the interactions that T.J. Was just referring to, the most damaging one potentially is the red writing in there that says, make him a suspect. I think that's a bigger potential problem for the police than exchanges between them saying they don't want something to be misinterpreted because in the context of that -- How can you explain make him a suspect? I mean, look, we'll have to see. I don't know what they'll say about exactly why they said that should be the case. Maybe they're going to say it was a mistake from the beginning that they viewed him as a suspect, there was a question about someone throwing a brick through a window. Who knows? That will be a question that has to be answered. Ongoing investigation with the New York attorney general. Yeah, it is the attorney general who investigates this sort of crime. Since 2015 in New York state it is the attorney general, not the local district attorneys who investigate something like a police shooting. But these investigations tend to take time. If you look back at the investigations at the New York attorney general has done, they often take over a year to complete and the attorney general has already been investigating this so the time line has started. But we may not see a quick resolution here on the question of whether any criminal charges will be filed. Dan Abrams, thanks very much.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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