New York Attorney General Letitia James said the "criminal justice system has frustrated efforts to hold law enforcement officers accountable for the unjustified killing of unarmed African Americans"

By Greg Hanlon
February 23, 2021 04:47 PM
Advertisement
Daniel Prude (pictured)
| Credit: Ted Shaffrey/AP/Shutterstock

A New York grand jury declined to indict police officers in Rochester, New York, in connection with the death of Daniel Prude, the Black man who suffocated to death after he was placed in a protective hood by police officers who were arresting him last March.

New York Attorney General Letitia James announced the decision Tuesday, saying, Prude's family and others would be "rightfully disappointed by this outcome. My office presented an extensive case, and we sought a different outcome than the one the grand jury handed us today."

She added, "The criminal justice system has frustrated efforts to hold law enforcement officers accountable for the unjustified killing of unarmed African Americans. What binds these cases is a tragic loss of life in circumstances in which the death could have been avoided." 

Prude died on March 30, seven days after police in Rochester arrested him and placed a so-called "spit-hood" over his head. Police alleged Prude, who was unarmed, told officers he was infected with COVID-19, and the Associated Press reported police sometimes use "spit-hoods" to shield themselves from saliva.

Police body camera footage of Prude's arrest was released six months later, after his family sued the city, and the footage sparked widespread outrage. In the video, Prude told the group of police officers, "Take this s--- off my face, you're trying to kill me."

The video shows officers telling Prude to "stop spitting" and to "calm down."

The video also shows officers restraining Prude and holding his head to the ground. When he becomes still during the detainment, an officer asks, "You good, man?"

When they notice he has vomited water, a paramedic performs CPR and he is then placed in an ambulance.

Credit: Associated Press/Youtube

The New York Times reported last year the Monroe County Medical Examiner's office ruled Prude's death a homicide caused by "complications of asphyxia in the setting of physical restraint."

The Times reported Prude's brother called police that day seeking help after his brother left in an erratic mental state. Prude had been hospitalized the day before with apparent mental health problems. At the time of his arrest, Prude had been running in the streets nude.

Want to keep up with the latest crime coverage? Sign up for PEOPLE's free True Crime newsletter for breaking crime news, ongoing trial coverage and details of intriguing unsolved cases.

"I placed a phone call for my brother to get help. Not for my brother to get lynched," Joe Prude, Daniel's brother, said at a September press conference following the release of the video, according to the Associated Press. "How did you see him and not directly say, 'The man is defenseless, buck naked on the ground. He's cuffed up already. Come on.' How many more brothers gotta die for society to understand that this needs to stop?"

The Times, citing Rochester city documents released last year, reported that officials sought to prevent the public from viewing the video.

Seven Rochester officers are currently suspended with pay in connection with the incident, Rochester First reports.