Police officers who hooded and held a deceased black man face down during his arrest in March in Rochester, New York, will not be charged with his death, state attorney general Letitia James announced Tuesday.
James did not hide his regret when he broke the news that a grand jury found that there was insufficient evidence to charge those involved in the death of Daniel Prude, 41, who was suffering from a psychotic episode when he was arrested.
“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 in a statement.
Prude’s death “could have been prevented,” James later told a news conference.
The prosecutor maintained that current laws on the use of deadly force “have created a system that totally and miserably failed Prude and so many others before him.”
“Serious reforms are needed, not just in the Rochester police department, but in our criminal justice system as a whole,” said James, who is black.
The prosecutor said there are still “serious concerns” about the conduct of the Rochester police and issued a series of recommendations, primarily on how the police should deal with a mental health crisis.
The Rochester police chief resigned in September after days of protests in the wake of Prude’s death.
It all started on March 23, when the victim’s brother called the police to help Prude, who was suffering a psychotic crisis and had gone out naked to the snowy streets at dawn.
Video obtained by the family in September, filmed by cameras attached to the officers’ clothing, shows Daniel Prude naked and unarmed.
The police ordered him to fall to the ground and he obeyed and was handcuffed. But then he was agitated. The policemen then placed a hood on him designed to prevent officers from spitting or biting the detainees, and forced him to keep his head face down for two minutes.
Prude lost consciousness. The police tried to resuscitate him, but were unsuccessful and transferred him to the hospital, where he died a week later, when he was removed from the machines that kept him alive.
Rochester police were also questioned after handcuffing and pepper-spraying a nine-year-old girl in January amid a wave of outrage at the methods used by US security forces.
The May death in Minneapolis of George Floyd, an African-American, after a white policeman knelt on his neck for more than eight minutes, sparked massive national protests called by the Black Lives Matter movement against racism and police brutality.
lbc / gma