Rochester police officers won’t face charges in death of Daniel Prude

ROCHESTER, N.Y. — A grand jury has decided not to criminally charge police officers in Rochester, New York, whose restraint of a Black man may have caused his death, New York state Attorney General Letitia James announced Tuesday.

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James made the announcement at Aenon Baptist Church in Rochester, the Democrat and Chronicle reported.

Daniel T. Prude, 41, of Chicago, was visiting his family in March 2020 when police encountered him running naked through the streets during the early morning hours of March 23, the newspaper reported. Police placed Prude in a hood and pinned him to the ground in March.

Prude, who was on life support, died March 30, 2020. Prude’s family obtained written reports and police body camera footage through a public records request and released that information through their attorneys on Wednesday, WROC reported.

An autopsy report from the Monroe County Medical Examiner’s Office ruled Prude’s death a homicide, WHAM reported. The cause of death was listed as “complications of asphyxia in the setting of physical restraint,” excited delirium and acute phencyclidine (PCP) intoxication.

“A grand jury has voted not to indict any police officer on charges related to the death of Daniel Prude,” James said at a news conference Tuesday. “My office concluded there was sufficient evidence surrounding Mr. Prude’s death to present the case to a grand jury, and we presented the most comprehensive case possible.

“Daniel Prude was in the throes of a mental health crisis and what he needed was compassion, care, and help from trained professionals. Tragically, he received none of those things,” James told reporters. “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.

>> Daniel Prude case: 7 Rochester officers suspended by mayor

In September, Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren announced the suspension of the seven police officers involved in the circumstances that led to Prude’s death.

Lawyers for the police officers have contended that the restraint used on Prude, with one officer holding his head to the ground and another pinning his lower body, followed the techniques they were taught, the Democrat and Chronicle reported.

Prude’s death set off several nights of protest in Rochester.

“I am disappointed, extremely disappointed,” James said. “Unfortunately, historically, if one analyzes the intersection of the criminal justice system and race, one recognizes the influence of race. From the slave clothes, to lynches, to Jim Crow, to the war on crime, to the over-incarceration of the people of color. Eric Garner, Tamir Rice, Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, and now Daniel Prude.”

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