The New York Attorney General said Tuesday that a grand jury voted not to include Rochester police officers in the case of Daniel Pruede’s suffocation death.
Attorney General Letitia James said, “When I was here in September, I made a commitment to the Prud family and the Rochester community. I will do everything with my strength to ensure justice on Daniel Prud’s death.”
“My office presented a broader case and we saw a different result than a grand jury handed us today.”
“The criminal justice system has frustrated efforts to hold law enforcement officials accountable,” James said, “We have to respect the decision. [of the grand jury.”
James called for police policy to be amended in New York so “officers only use lethal force as a last resort” and for a state review of the use of spit hoods.
“The criminal justice system is badly in need of reform. It was built to protect and shield officers from wrongdoing and accountability,” she said.
The 41-year-old Prude was left brain-dead after being detained during a mental-health episode March 23, and died a week later.
Prude was placed in a “spit hood” and pushed to the ground while naked.
The medical examiner ruled his death a homicide
that was caused by “complications of asphyxia in the setting of physical restraint, excited delirium [and] Sharp [PCP] intoxication. ”
But until months later, details of his death were unclear until the family got their hands on body camera footage from the incident.
The video, which reminded of the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, showed seven officers laughing at the naked man while he cuffed during the episode.
Once upon a time, officers loudly pressed Prude’s face, avoiding his words.
The day after the video went public in early September, seven policemen involved were suspended without pay.
A week later, Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren fired Police Chief La’Ron Singletary before he could resign over the operations of the department.
“This indicates that Mr. Prud’s death was not taken as seriously as those who should have reviewed the case of the city government at every level,” Warren said.
Reports surfaced after the chiefs fired that police commanders had tried to delay the city in releasing footage from the fatal encounter – fearing backlash from the public following summer demonstrations over Floyd’s death.
The video sparked two weeks of protests and federal prosecutions over the alleged cover-up.
Singletary later claimed that in a notice Mayer asked her how she would drop her role due to Prude’s death.
He said, “Mayor Warren asked me, instead, to misinform and omit material information to support the mayor’s public statement about his knowledge of the events in Daniel Prude’s case.”