Rochester officers involved in Daniel Prude's death won’t face charges

Joe Prude, right, uncle of Daniel Prude, and Daniel's nephew Armin, stand with a picture of Daniel Prude in Rochester, N.Y. in September 2020. (AP photo)

A grand jury has voted that no charges will be filed against Rochester police officers involved in the brutal death of Daniel Prude, a Black man, in March last year.

His family uncovered video footage that shows the officers put a hood over the head of the mentally distraught Black man while he was in handcuffs. Then one officer is seen pushing Prude’s face against the ground, while another officer pressing a knee to his back.

The officers held the 41-year-old man down for about two minutes until he fell unconscious. He was taken off life support a week later.

New York Attorney General Letitia James, who initiated an investigation into the fatal encounter on March 23, said on Tuesday none of the seven officers involved in his death would face charges.

"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 said. "We concluded that there was sufficient evidence surrounding Mr. Prude's death to warrant presenting the case to a grand jury, and we presented the most comprehensive case possible.”

“The criminal justice system has demonstrated an unwillingness to hold law enforcement officers accountable in the unjustified killing of unarmed African-Americans,” James added. “What binds these cases is the tragic loss of life in circumstances in which the death could be avoided.”

"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," she added.

Prude’s death as well as an apparent cover-up of the circumstances around it sparked protests and inflamed a national reckoning around racism and police brutality.

On Tuesday evening, hundreds of protesters gathered on the street where Prude was detained, denouncing the grand jury decision and the system that made it possible.

Around 9 p.m., they gathered outside a police building on Child Street, chanting and singing before a line of officers in riot gear.

“The system failed Daniel Prude again,” Prude family lawyer Elliot Shields said following the grand jury’s decision. “It failed him on March 22 when he was released from the hospital. It failed him on the night of March 23 when the police used deadly force against him. And it failed him again today.”

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