Attorney General

NY attorney general will decide when to release body camera video in police officer-involved civilian deaths – CNN

(CNN)New York Attorney General Letitia James said Sunday that her office will now decide when to publicly release body camera footage of police-involved deaths of unarmed civilians to avoid a repeat of what happened in the wake of Daniel Prude’s death in Rochester.

“Up until now the release of footage has been up to the discretion of local authorities, but this process has caused confusion, delays, and has hampered transparency in a system that should be as open and available to the public as quickly as possible, publicizing the footage, as soon as we have shown it to the deceased family,” James said in a press conference Sunday.
James traveled to Rochester to make the announcement on what would’ve been Daniel Prude’s 42nd birthday. She met with his family before the press conference and told reporters she promised them justice.
Prude was having a mental health episode on March 23 when his brother called Rochester police for help, according to his family. Prude’s death and police body camera footage of the fatal encounter prompted protests in Rochester and accusations of a cover-up.
Last week, the city released 325 pages of internal emails, police reports and other documents that show a concerted effort by police and city officials to delay the release of incriminating body camera footage of Prude’s encounter with police.
The documents included other examples of possible attempts by police and city officials to control the narrative around Prude’s death in custody.
The attorney general announced earlier this month that she’s empaneling a grand jury to investigate Prude’s death.
James said that regardless of the grand jury investigation’s outcome, her office will seek an order from the presiding judge to release the grand jury minutes to the public.
Under the new policy, which takes effect immediately, James says she will tell the public when her office opens an investigation into a police-involved death of an unarmed civilian. The public will see the body camera footage as soon as the family of the deceased victim sees it, she said.
James did say the timing of the video release will still be dependent on applicable security and privacy laws, and other privacy concerns.
Police departments typically agree with the fast release of raw body camera footage because it usually tells an entire unedited picture of the police interaction, said Betsy Brantner Smith, a retired police officer and spokeswoman for the National Police Association.
“From a national perspective, police departments aren’t that unhappy about the release of body worn camera. There’s always kind of a perception that’s wrong, that police want to hide the body camera. And generally speaking, we want it out there as soon as possible,” Smith told CNN. “In an officer-involved shooting, releasing a body worn camera is going to help show what really happened.”
Smith was wary of the timing of the attorney general’s move, cautioning against politicizing police work as the country experiences increasing tensions between police and the public in the wake of police custody deaths like Prude and George Floyd.
“The attorney general of any state is supposed to be the top law enforcement officer in that state, you know, obviously not law enforcement officers out on patrol, but they are the ones that their interest is supposed to be in the interest of the people and the crime victims, and that relationship with law enforcement, you know, boots on the ground law enforcement, needs to be a cooperative one,” Smith told CNN. “Any police officer needs trust in their attorney general, and any state attorney general needs trust in their police. So, we have to make sure that those relationships don’t get politicized.”
CNN reached out to police unions in Rochester and New York City but has not heard back.

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Attorney General

NY attorney general to form grand jury to probe Daniel Prude’s death – Daily Mail

NY Attorney General Letitia James forms a grand jury to investigate the death of Daniel Prude who suffocated after a ‘spit hood’ was placed over his head – leading to the suspension of seven Rochester officers

  • New York Attorney General Letitia James said her office is forming a grand jury to investigate the death of Daniel Prude
  • Prude is a black man who died after Rochester police officers used a ‘spit hood’ to restrain him
  • The hood was designed to protect police from being hit by bodily fluids  
  • Prude’s family said that he had been spiraling into crisis in the hours before police handcuffed him on a street 

By Reuters and Maxine Shen For

Published: | Updated:

New York Attorney General Letitia James said on Saturday her office would form a grand jury to investigate the death of Daniel Prude, a Black man who died after Rochester police officers used a mesh hood to restrain him. 

‘The Prude family and the Rochester community have been through great pain and anguish. My office will immediately move to empanel a grand jury as part of our exhaustive investigation into this matter,’ James said in a statement. 

New York State Gov. Andrew Cuomo said In a statement Saturday: ‘Earlier this week, I called for the investigation into Daniel Prude’s death to be expedited. Today, I applaud Attorney General Tish James for taking swift, decisive action in empaneling a grand jury — justice delayed is justice denied and the people of New York deserve the truth.’ 

NY Attorney General Letitia James (left) said her office will form a grand jury to investigate Daniel Prude’s death, after NY State Gov. Andrew Cuomo (right) demanded answers

Gov. Cuomo tweeted a message applauding James for quickly calling for a grand jury

Protests have broken out in Rochester, after footage of Daniel Prude’s arrest was made public. Prude was shown with a ‘spit hood’ over his head and died days later

James decision comes just two days after Cuomo said Thursday, ‘Last night, I watched the video of Daniel Prude’s death in Rochester. What I saw was deeply disturbing and I demand answers.’ 

Cuomo also asked that the conclusion to Prude’s case be expedited ‘For the sake of Mr. Prude’s family and the greater Rochester community,’ Rochester First reported.

Rochester, a city of 200,000 people in the northwest corner of the state, erupted with protests this week after the Prude family released body camera footage from the arrest of Daniel Prude in March.

The footage, released Wednesday, showed a group of officers putting a mesh hood over Prude’s head – apparently to prevent his spit from possibly transmitting the novel coronavirus – as he kneels naked and restrained on the street.

Prude’s (pictured) family called 911 for help with Prude’s erratic behavior claiming he was going through a mental health crisis

Protesters are seen in Rochester Friday night while marching for justice in Prude’s death. Police were seen firing pepper balls at protesters who shielded themselves with umbrellas

Protesters are seen walking past a bus shelter which was set on fire during demonstrations Friday night in Rochester

Rochester police are seen reacting as flares were set off during the protests Friday night

The video footage also shows officers forcing Prude’s face down on the ground. Prude can be heard shouting, ‘Take this … off my face!’ and ‘You’re trying to kill me!’ in response to the hood. Officers are heard saying ‘Calm down’ and ‘stop spitting.’

He died a week later at the hospital.

Seven police officers were suspended on Thursday over the arrest. 

The medical examiner ruled his death a homicide caused by ‘complications of asphyxia in the setting of physical restraint’, with intoxication by the drug PCP, a contributing factor.

Rochester officials have faced questions over why the officers were not disciplined until the videotape became public five months later. On Friday, the Rochester police union chief defended the officers, saying they followed their training in responding to Prude, who was having a psychotic episode. 

Prude’s brother had called 911 for help for Prude’s erratic behavior, with his family saying that he had appeared to be spiraling into crisis in the hours before police handcuffed him on a street. 

Having police respond can be a ‘recipe for disaster,’ The National Alliance on Mental Illness said in a statement Friday.

The organization called Prude’s death ‘yet another harrowing tragedy, but a story not unfamiliar to us,’ and added that ‘People in crisis deserve help, not handcuffs.’

Protests are expected again on Saturday in Rochester, New York State’s third largest city, after nearly 1,000 demonstrators marched downtown on Friday night. 

Activists have marched every night since Prude’s arrest video was made public. Friday night’s protest resulted in 11 arrests, police said.  

‘This is just the beginning,’ Ashley Gantt, a protest organizer, told the AP by email after James’ announcement. ‘We will not be stopped in our quest for truth and justice. It is always necessary to do what’s right.’ 

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Attorney General

Attorney General Barr ordered authorities to clear protesters near White House, DOJ official says – CNN

Washington (CNN)Attorney General William Barr on Monday evening ordered authorities to clear a crowd of protesters that had gathered near the White House, according to a Justice Department official, minutes ahead of President Donald Trump‘s televised address from the Rose Garden.

Barr and other top officials from agencies responsible for securing the White House had previously planned to secure a wider perimeter around Lafayette Square, a federally owned green space just north of the building, in response to fires and destruction caused by protestors on Sunday night.
That plan, developed earlier Monday, would have cleared the area later used for the President’s walk to the nearby St. John’s Episcopal Church for a photo-op by 4 p.m. ET, the official said.
But it never happened. When Barr arrived at Lafayette Square just after 6 p.m. in a scene that was captured on news cameras and elicited heckles from the large, peaceful crowd, the attorney general saw that the area had not been emptied, and told police to clear the area, the official said.
If federal law enforcement was met with resistance by the protesters, crowd control measures should be implemented, Barr had said, according to the official.
The Washington Post first reported Barr’s direct involvement.
Barr had been told that police believed protestors were gathering rocks to throw at law enforcement, and while he was in the park, water bottles were thrown in his direction, the official said. CNN did not witness any water bottles being thrown at the attorney general. Camera footage shows him standing and watching the crowd for several minutes, flanked by a security detail and two senior department officials.
Just before 6:24 p.m., police broadcast their first warning for the crowd to distance. A CNN correspondent reporting from the rooftop of a nearby hotel heard three warnings broadcast over the next 10 minutes as authorities moved closer to the crowd.
At 6:35 p.m., authorities began charging the crowd in lockstep with their shields raised, some using their batons to strike the protestors as gas canisters were deployed.
Trump walked over to the church shortly after 7 p.m.

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Attorney Breonna

Attorney for Breonna Taylor’s boyfriend releases audio of 911 call after her shooting death – CNN

(CNN)Outcry over the fatal shooting of Breonna Taylor reached a boiling point overnight Thursday in Louisville, Kentucky, when gunfire erupted during protests and audio was released of Taylor’s boyfriend’s call to 911 the day of her death.

Seven people were shot downtown, the mayor said in a video message on Twitter. Property damage also was reported after peaceful demonstrations took a turn, Louisville Metro Police Department officials said during a news conference.
The protests turned violent as fury in Minneapolis over the death this week of an unarmed black man in police custody also took a dangerous turn, with marchers setting a police precinct on fire. Large crowds gathered in both places, even as experts warned people to continue to avoid big gatherings to stall the spread of the coronavirus.
“Understandably, emotions are high,” Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer said on Facebook. “As Breonna’s mother says, let’s be peaceful as we work toward truth and justice,”
Protesters this week have demanded justice for Taylor, an EMT who was shot at least eight times in March when three officers entered her Kentucky apartment by force to serve a search warrant in a narcotics investigation. The department said the officers announced themselves and returned gunfire from her boyfriend, Kenneth Walker.
Walker was charged with attempted murder of a police officer and first-degree assault, but prosecutors filed a motion last week to drop the charges. In a wrongful death lawsuit, Taylor’s mother said the officers didn’t knock at all.
Also on Thursday, one of Walker’s attorneys released audio of the 911 call placed by Walker after Taylor was shot.
In the call, Walker tells the 911 operator, “Somebody kicked in the door and shot my girlfriend,” and that Taylor was unresponsive on the ground.
“This call is one of the hardest things I’ve ever listened to,” attorney Sam Aguiar said in a statement Thursday. “Kenneth Walker is a great man. He stayed by Breonna’s side. He lost the love of his life and then went to jail after doing everything right. He had no idea who had broken into the home and fired shots. My heart is bleeding for him and his family.”
The FBI has opened an investigation into the incident, and the Louisville Metro Police Department said it would require sworn officers to wear body cameras.

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Attorney Georgia

Georgia Attorney General Appoints New Prosecutor To Ahmaud Arbery Case | NBC Nightly News – NBC News

District Attorney Joyette Holmes is now the fourth to oversee the case — two previous prosecutors recused themselves because of potential conflicts of interest with one of the accused.

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Georgia Attorney General Appoints New Prosecutor To Ahmaud Arbery Case | NBC Nightly News

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Attorney Georgia

Georgia Attorney General Asks For DOJ Probe Into Handling Of Ahmaud Arbery Case – NPR

Demonstrators protest the shooting death of Ahmaud Arbery at the Glynn County Courthouse on May 8, 2020 in Brunswick, Georgia.

Sean Rayford/Getty Images

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Demonstrators protest the shooting death of Ahmaud Arbery at the Glynn County Courthouse on May 8, 2020 in Brunswick, Georgia.

Sean Rayford/Getty Images

Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr asked the Department of Justice on Sunday to conduct an investigation into the handling of the Ahmaud Arbery case.

Arbery, a 25-year-old black man, was shot and killed in February while jogging through a neighborhood in the city of Brunswick, Ga. His death sparked a national outcry and demands for justice after a cellphone video of the shooting began circulating online last week.

On Thursday, two men, Gregory McMichael, 64, and his son Travis, who is 34, were arrested and charged with murder and aggravated assault. The arrests came two days after state authorities took over the case from local law enforcement — and 10 weeks after Arbery’s death.

McMichael, a retired police detective, told authorities that he and his son pursued Arbery because they believed he had been involved in local burglaries.

Prior to the state’s takeover of the investigation, the case had landed on the desk of three separate district attorneys. The first recused herself because the father had previously worked in her office as an investigator.

A second district attorney was appointed but recused himself at the request of Arbery’s family. He then wrote a lengthy letter saying, “We do not see grounds for an arrest of any of the three parties.”

A third district attorney was appointed to the case and asked for the Georgia Bureau of Investigation to step in after video of the altercation and shooting became public.

“We are committed to a complete and transparent review of how the Ahmaud Arbery case was handled from the outset. The family, the community and the state of Georgia deserve answers, and we will work with others in law enforcement at the state and federal level to find those answers,” Carr said in a statement.

Carr highlighted a lack of information given to his office about involvement from various people involved in the case — including one of the suspects, who had previously investigated Arbery in a different legal matter.

In a statement, attorneys for Arbery’s mother and father praised the attorney general’s request for a Justice Department investigation.

“We are pleased that Georgia AG Chris Carr has officially asked the Dept. of Justice to investigate the handling, and potential cover-up, of Ahmaud Arbery’s murder,” wrote S. Lee Merritt, Benjamin Crump and L. Chris Stewart. ” … There are far too many questions about how this case was handled and why it took 74 days for two of the killers to be arrested and charged in Mr. Arbery’s death.”

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Attorney Georgia

Georgia attorney general to investigate local officials’ handling of Ahmaud Arbery’s murder – Washington Post

BRUNSWICK, Ga. — The state attorney general pledged to investigate the handling of a young black man’s murder as a furious public demands action against the local officials who waited more than two months to arrest the suspected killers.

A graphic video taken of the final moments of 25-year-old Ahmaud Arbery’s life show him jogging on a residential road here when two white men approach him in a pickup truck. The men tussle, gunshots are heard and Arbery stumbles to the ground. The release of that grisly footage earlier this week sparked widespread horror, leading authorities to charge two men with murder on Thursday night — 74 days after Arbery was killed.

The arrests of the father and son, Gregory and Travis McMichael, did little to quell the outrage of a reeling public clamoring for an explanation of how so much time could have passed without an arrest.

“I will be looking into how the Ahmaud Arbery case was handled from the outset,” Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr said in a statement to The Washington Post. “The family, the community, and the state of Georgia deserve answers. We need to know exactly what happened, and we will be working tirelessly with the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, the Brunswick community and others to find those answers.”

Glynn County commissioner Peter Murphy said he also plans to call for an investigation into the prosecutors and police agencies that investigated Arbery’s shooting over the past two months.

Murphy echoed widely held concerns that three separate district attorneys had reviewed the video, but that the McMichaels were arrested only after the footage was publicly released and pressure intensified.

Murphy also said police officials have told him that homicide investigators conferred with District Attorney Jackie Johnson’s office on the day Arbery was killed but were instructed not to make any immediate arrests, the first of similar actions as the case pinballed to different prosecutors’ offices.

Johnson did not immediately respond to a call and an email to her office Saturday.

“When the highest levels of our federal government are criticizing what’s happening here, I think that speaks to the needs of not just a look at Arbery’s killing but at the entire system that investigated it,” he said.

The video of Arbery’s February death was met with swift and emotional responses from a cadre of public officials that included former vice president and likely Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden, basketball great LeBron James and Oprah Winfrey.

Fer-Rell Malone Sr., the pastor of Macedonia Baptist Church in Waycross, led several dozen protesters through city streets to call attention to an effort to recall the area’s prosector, George E. Barnhill, in connection with the Arbery shooting investigation.

Barnhill, also of Waycross, was the second prosecutor to examine the case, but he later recused himself under pressure from Arbery’s mother, who raised concerns that Barnhill’s son used to work with Gregory McMichael in the Brunswick District Attorney’s Office, according to a letter Barnhill wrote to the Glynn County Police Department.

On his way out, Barnhill took the unusual step of telling law enforcement he did not see grounds for the arrests of the McMichaels, arguing their actions were lawful because they were making a citizen’s arrest of a person they believed to be involved in a burglary.

“It appears their intent was to stop and hold this criminal suspect until law enforcement arrived,” Barnhill wrote. “Under Georgia Law this is perfectly legal.”

But several legal experts told The Washington Post that Barnhill’s application of the state’s citizen’s arrest law is flawed.

The Georgia Bureau of Investigation is conducting the investigation with District Attorney Tom Durden of the neighboring Atlantic Judicial Circuit, now the third prosecutor on the case.

When asked if his agency would expand its probe to the Glynn County Police Department or Barnhill’s office, GBI director Victor Reynolds replied: “It will only expand to what’s relevant to this murder investigation.”

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Attorney General

Attorney General Barr defends decision to drop Michael Flynn case – CBS News

Published on 08-May-2020

Attorney General William Barr is weighing in on the Justice Department’s stunning decision to drop the case against Michael Flynn, President Trump’s former national security adviser, who pleaded guilty twice to lying to the FBI in 2017. Now Barr is defending the move in an interview with CBS senior investigative correspondent Catherine Herridge. She joins CBSN to explain the latest developments.

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