The grand jury votes not to indict the police officers involved in the arrest and suffocation death of a 41-year-old man in Rochester, New York.
The police officers involved in the arrest and death by asphyxiation of an unarmed black man in the US state of New York last year will not face criminal charges, the state attorney general said on Tuesday.
Grand jury voted not to charge any officer implicated in the death of Daniel Prude, 41, who died after police put on a hood over his head and held him to the ground during an arrest in Rochester, the state’s third largest city, in March.
Prude’s arrest – which was captured on police corps cameras – sparked outrage across the United States, which saw widespread protests last year calling for racial justice and an end to the systemic police violence against blacks.
“Daniel Prude was in the throes of a mental health crisis and he needed compassion, care and the help of trained professionals. Unfortunately, he didn’t receive any of those things, ”New York Attorney General Letitia James said in a statement on Tuesday.
“We concluded that there was sufficient evidence regarding Mr. Prude’s death to warrant taking the case to a grand jury, and we presented the most comprehensive case possible,” said James.
“While I know the Prude family, the community of Rochester and communities across the country will rightly be devastated and disappointed, we must respect this decision.
Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren also said the grand jury’s decision “is hard for many of us to understand” but called on the community to “work on changing policies and procedures to correct the inequalities in the system, ”according to a statement shared by the local. media.
Seven police officers involved in Prude’s arrest were suspended in September.
Police body camera footage showing Prude lying on the bare floor, handcuffed and surrounded by police officers, was released after his family obtained him through an access to information request.
His family said the father of five had mental health issues when the family called the police for help after running down the street and undressing.
The video showed officers arriving at the scene putting a balaclava over his head and telling him to “stop spitting”. Prude’s face was sunk into the ground with the hood on.
His voice grew muffled and a few minutes later he fell silent. Prude died seven days later, on March 30, after being removed from the life support system.
A medical examiner concluded that Prude’s death was a homicide caused by “complications of asphyxiation in the context of physical restraint.”
The release of the video footage raised questions about a possible cover-up and turned Rochester into a flashpoint of a summer of racial injustice and police protests in the United States that were first sparked by George Floyd’s death in custody in Minneapolis on May 25.
Warren, the mayor, sacked Police Chief La’Ron Singletary and suspended two city officials for the incident.
However, local civil rights groups called for the officers involved to be fired and prosecuted. In September, they staged several consecutive nights of protests to demand justice and accountability for Prude’s death.
Rochester Police said they were conducting internal and criminal investigations.
Warren said the city’s new police chief is expected to announce orders and procedures soon to implement police reforms.
“The current lethal force laws have created a system that has completely and abjectly failed Mr. Prude and so many before him,” said James, the Attorney General. “Serious reform is needed, not just for the Rochester Police Department, but for our criminal justice system as a whole.”