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.’