News and Commentary

NY AG Moves To Empanel Grand Jury In Daniel Prude Death Investigation
ROCHESTER, NEW YORK - SEPTEMBER 04: Demonstrators shield themselves from pepper balls as police officers attempt to clear the streets after a march for Daniel Prude on September 04, 2020 in Rochester, New York. Prude died after being arrested on March 23, by Rochester police officers who had placed a "spit hood" over his head and pinned him to the ground while restraining him. Mayor Lovely Warren announced yesterday the suspension of seven officers involved in the arrest.
Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images

Following an evening of violent unrest in Rochester, New York, Democrat State Attorney General Letitia James announced Saturday that a grand jury would be empaneled as part of the investigation into the death of Daniel Prude, a 41-year-old black man who died following an interaction with several police officers in New York in March. 

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

Democratic New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who called for a grand jury empanelment earlier this week, lauded James for her decision, saying “justice delayed is justice denied and the people of New York deserve the truth.”

Unrest in Rochester began earlier this week, after body camera footage of Prude’s interaction with police officers was released to the public by the late man’s family, who reportedly obtained it through a public records request, reports The New York Times

The bodycam footage shows Prude in handcuffs, fully naked, on the floor of the street, and in the middle of the night in what appears to be a mix of rain and snow. In the video, Prude can be heard shouting various statements, such as “give me your gun, I need it,” and “I’m killing everybody in that house, man.”

As The Daily Wire previously reported: 

As cops were physically restraining the man for about two minutes, body camera footage (which can be viewed below) and media reports suggest the 41-year-old threw up and loss consciousness. He was reportedly resuscitated on the way to the hospital but likely suffered severe brain damage and was pulled from life support about a week later by his family.

Notably, Prude has a mesh-like hood placed over his head, dubbed a “spit hood.” The device is used to protect officers from saliva. Prude was repeatedly spitting and reportedly telling people he had COVID. (The interaction with police was in March, at the height of the novel coronavirus pandemic.)

The Monroe County Medical Examiner’s Office ruled Prude’s death a homicide, per lawyer’s for his family, according to CNN. The medical examiner found the death was caused by asphyxiation, and also cited excited delirium and acute PCP intoxication as contributing factors, report the news agency. 

Since the release of the video and medical examiner’s report earlier this week, seven officers involved in the incident have been suspended. Michael Mazzaeo, president of the Rochester Police Locust Club, told BBC on Friday that the police officers appear to have acted within protocol for the situation. 

“To me, it looks like they were watching the training in front of them,” said Mazzaeo. “If there’s a problem with that, let’s change it.”

Related: Daniel Prude: Police Body-Cam Footage, Autopsy Released. Here’s What We Know

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