The police officers involved in the death of Daniel Prude last March will not face criminal charges, according to a grand jury decision announced Tuesday.
The 41-year-old black man’s death sparked nightly unrest in Rochester, New York, after body camera video of the incident was released nearly six months after the fact.
State Attorney General Letitia James, whose office took over the prosecution and impaneled a grand jury, said her office “presented the strongest case possible” and she was “extremely disappointed” by the decision.
“The criminal justice system has frustrated efforts to hold law enforcement officers accountable for the unjustified killing of African Americans. And what binds these cases is a tragic loss of life in circumstances in which the death could have been avoided,” James said.
“One recognizes the influences of race, from the slave codes to Jim Crow to lynching to the war on crime to the overincarceration of people of color: Eric Garner, Tamir Rice, Breonna Taylor, George Floyd. And now Daniel Prude,” James later added.
Lawyers for the seven police officers suspended over Prude’s death have said the officers strictly followed their training that night.
They said Prude’s use of PCP, which caused irrational behavior, was “the root cause” of his death.
The video made public on Sept. 4 shows Prude handcuffed and naked with a spit hood over his head.
The officers held him down for about two minutes until he stopped breathing. He was taken off life support a week later.
The county medical examiner listed the manner of death as homicide caused by “complications of asphyxia in the setting of physical restraint” and cited PCP as a contributing factor.
Prude’s family filed a federal lawsuit alleging the police department sought to cover up the true nature of his death.
Officers Troy Taladay, Paul Ricotta, Francisco Santiago, Andrew Specksgoor, Josiah Harris and Mark Vaughn, along with Sgt. Michael Magri, were suspended after Prude’s death became public.
Calls were made to the officers’ attorneys. Matthew Rich, who represents four of the officers, said “we’re still taking it in” and said the attorneys would speak to the media later.
A message seeking comment was left for Prude family lawyer Elliot Shields.
The Western Journal has reviewed this Associated Press story and may have altered it prior to publication to ensure that it meets our editorial standards.
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