ROCHESTER police will not be charged in the death of Daniel Prude, a mentally ill Black man officers were seen on video placing a hood over his head as they pressed his body into the ground.
Prude, 41, died in March days after his encounter with police was written off as a “drug overdose.” However, after body camera footage worn by the officers was made public, outcries began over the police cover-up and potential killing of Prude.
A grand jury declined to indict the officers even after New York Attorney General Letitia James put together what she considered the strongest case possible, but said the jury could not be persuaded the officers had committed a crime.
It was only six months after Prude’s death that the video was made public, with pressure calling for the officers involved to be disciplined for their actions.
James was apologetic she could not push the jury to charge the officers.
“I know that the Prude family, the Rochester community and communities across the country will rightfully be disappointed by this outcome,” said James, who announced the decision at a church where Prude was killed.
James said she respects the jury’s decision but admonished the route it had taken, saying the system in place has “frustrated efforts to hold law enforcement officers accountable for the unjustified killing of African Americans.”
“What binds these cases is a tragic loss of life in circumstances in which the death could have been avoided,” said James.
She, the current mayor of Rochester, and both the current and former police chiefs are Black.
“One recognizes the influences of race, from the slave codes to Jim Crow, to lynching, to the war on crime, to the overincarceration of people of color: Eric Garner, Tamir Rice, Breonna Taylor, George Floyd. And now Daniel Prude,” James continued.
Seven police officers were suspended over Prude’s death, with lawyers for them saying the officers were following their training and employed a restraining technique known as segmenting.
The blamed Prude’s death on his use of PCP, which increases irrational behavior.
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Prude was placed in the fatal restraint on March 23, but video of the incident was released to the public on September 4, fueling much of the nation’s cries against the police department following the summer’s Justice for George Floyd demostrations.
Prude’s brother Joe called police to help him find his brother after he was acting strangely. After his brother died, Joe called it “cold-blooded murder.”