ROCHESTER, NY – A grand jury has decided not to prosecute Rochester police officers whose reluctance towards Daniel Prude may have caused his death, the attorney general said Tuesday.
“I know the Prude family, the Rochester community, and communities across the country will be rightly disappointed with this result,” said New York Attorney General Letitia James as the grand jury announced the decision. “My office presented a large case and we were looking for a different result than what the grand jury gave us today.”
She added, “The criminal justice system has thwarted efforts to hold law enforcement officers accountable for the unjustified killing of unarmed African Americans. What these cases have in common is a tragic death in circumstances where death could have been avoided.”
James promised to publish a “comprehensive report” for the media. The report would include a “minute by minute report” of the events of March 22nd and 23rd.
“What this report shows is a man in mental crisis,” said James. “Who was literally shouting for help the way he knew it. His brother Joe also shouting for help. He wasn’t asking the police to deal with a law enforcement crisis. He was calling an ambulance professional to deal with a mental crisis.”
James said she plans to meet with Prude’s brother later Tuesday. She also said she plans to call for reforms of the law regarding the use of force by the police.
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Pamela Karlan, Assistant Attorney General, Department of Civil Rights, Ministry of Justice; James P. Kennedy Jr., US attorney for the Western District of New York; and Stephen A. Belongia, special agent for the FBI Buffalo Field Office, issued a statement saying that federal agencies would review the comprehensive report and “determine whether further federal response is warranted.”
James, who is charged with investigating cases of unarmed civilians dying by police, revealed the grand jury’s findings at a press conference held at the Aenon Missionary Baptist Church.
James did not say which charges she recommended to the grand jury, citing rules of secrecy. During the press conference on Tuesday, James called for reform.
“The grand jury’s secrecy rules should be relaxed,” said James. “The public deserves to know what was going on behind closed doors.” The current secrecy laws are simply out of date. Anachronistic.”
Last year, after the medical office condemned Prude’s death as murder, prosecutors referred the case to the Attorney General for possible prosecution.
Prude lost oxygen to his brain when he was held on the ground by police while they waited for medical transport.
Police lawyers have alleged the restraint was used on Prude, with one officer holding his head on the floor and another pinning his lower body. followed the techniques they were taught. It is possible that the officers testified before the grand jury.
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Local activists and critics of restraint say officials did not have to forcibly detain Prude; He was naked and handcuffed behind his back.
Prude’s death sparked nights of protest in Rochester. Activists claimed the police shouldn’t have been the primary response to a mental health episode.
On March 23, police received a call from a man who was acting erratically in southwest Rochester and breaking windows. Police found Prude, who had been taken to Strong Memorial Hospital hours earlier but not admitted, and was walking the streets naked.
The encounter with the police made him reluctant, and he stopped breathing and lost oxygen to his brain. He was resuscitated but died a week later.
Beyond the grand jury’s investigation, the fallout over Prude’s death was far-reaching.
Mayor Lovely Warren sacked Police Chief La’Ron Singletary, and the management of the police department has been revised.
The streets of the city were the scene of mass protests for weeks. The city council opened an investigation into the mayor’s handling of the murder.
“I’m disappointed,” said James. “Very disappointed. Unfortunately, historically, if you analyze the interface between criminal justice and race, you can see the influence of race. From the slave codes to lynching, Jim Crow, the war on crime, to the over-attachment of people with color … Eric Garner, Tamir Rice, Breonna Taylor, George Floyd and now Daniel Prude. “
Warren has claimed she was kept in the dark about the details of death for months while others questioned what she knew and when.
In the meantime, the city has stepped up its efforts to improve its mental health when making emergency calls.
“The criminal justice system is in dire need of reform,” James said on Tuesday. “The system is designed to protect and protect officials from wrongdoing and accountability.” The system too often allows officers to use deadly force unnecessarily and without consequence. This is a system that is basically broken. ”
Follow Gary Craig on Twitter: @ gcraig1
Featuring: Kevin Johnson, USA TODAY