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The officers involved in the death of Daniel Prude will not face criminal charges. New York Attorney General Letitia James announced the grand jury’s decision Tuesday, nearly a year after the 41-year-old Black man died while being restrained by police in Rochester, New York.
“While I know that the Prude family, the Rochester community, and communities across the country will rightfully be devastated and disappointed, we have to respect this decision,” James said in a statement. “The current laws on deadly force have created a system that utterly and abjectly failed Mr. Prude and so many others before him. Serious reform is needed, not only at the Rochester Police Department, but to our criminal justice system as a whole.”
James also announced the release of a “comprehensive report” that would detail the events leading up to Prude’s death on March 23, 2020. Prude, a Chicago resident, was reportedly visiting family in Rochester when he began acting erratically—so much so that his brother Joe Prude had called the police for assistance.
Body cam footage released last September captured officers approaching Prude as he wandered the streets naked. The video goes on to show Prude with a “spit hood” over his head as officers pinned him to the ground with his hands behind his back. At one point during the encounter Prude tells officers, “Take this shit off my face! You’re trying to kill me.” Several minutes later, Prude stopped breathing and lost oxygen to his brain. Though medical personnel revived him shortly after, Prude died in the hospital one week later. A medical examiner determined his death was caused by “complications of asphyxia in the setting of physical restraint.” Phencyclidine (PCP) intoxication was also listed as a contributing factor.
“I didn’t call them to come help my brother die,” Joe Prude told NPR back in September. “I called them to come help me get my brother some help … I want to know if them officers are going to lose their jobs and be punished just like any other civilian. And I really would love to see them stand in front of a judge and have they prosecution just like they prosecuted my brother. They was the judge and the jury and executioner.”
Prude’s death ignited nationwide backlash, with activists calling for the involved officers to be terminated and face criminal charges. In wake of the criticism, seven officers were suspended, and the city’s then-police chief, La’Ron Singletary, resigned from his post.
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