A grand jury voted against indicting the officers involved in the death of Daniel Prude, a Black man who died last March after officers pinned him to the ground in the midst of what was undoubtedly a mental health crisis.
New York Attorney General Letitia James, who presented the case to the grand jury, condemned the decision and called for serious reform in a statement made directly after announcing on Tuesday.
“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. 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.
“The current laws on deadly force have created a system that utterly and abjectly failed Mr. Prude and so many others before him. Serious reform is needed, not only at the Rochester Police Department, but to our criminal justice system as a whole,” James’ statement continued.
Ben Crump and Antonio Romanucci attorney’s for Prude’s family also expressed their discontent with the grand jury’s decision.
“This tragedy could have been avoided if officers had been properly trained but also used basic human decency and common sense to treat Mr. Prude with compassion and get him the medical attention he deserved,” the attorneys said in a statement. “We will continue to advocate for justice in the civil courts, while also seeking federal police reform so that these continued tragedies against Black citizens end once and for all.”
The Rochester Police Accountability Board also released a statement sending their condolences to Prude’s family who was denied an opportunity to see justice served.
Prude, 41, was visiting family in Rochester from Chicago last March, when his family called the police for help, noting that Prude was in the throes of a breakdown.
Footage from the incident shows Prude laying naked on a snow covered street, after officers covered his head with a “spit sock.” Officers said they used the hood to protect themselves after Prude alleged he was COVID-19 positive. One officer can be seen pressing his head into the ground while Prude lays handcuffed. Moments later he became unresponsive.
He died a week later after paramedics rushed him to a local hospital. A medical examiner later ruled that he died from “complications of asphyxia in the setting of physical restraint.”
The city responded by suspending seven Rochester police officers, along with the resignation of former police chief La’Ron Singletary.