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New York’s attorney general announced on Saturday that she would set up a grand jury to consider evidence in the death of a Black man in Rochester, N.Y., who suffocated after he had been placed in a hood by police officers and pinned to the ground.

The unusual weekend announcement by the attorney general, Letitia James, signaled a significant ramping up of the response to the March 23 arrest of Daniel Prude, 41, after months of official silence. Mr. Prude’s family in recent days has accused local and state officials of covering up his death to protect the police officers involved.

Mr. Prude went into cardiac arrest during a struggle with officers and died a week later. The county medical examiner labeled his death a homicide caused by complications of asphyxiation in a prone position. But for months, the police in Rochester treated the case as a drug overdose after PCP, or angel dust, was found in his bloodstream.

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

Her office became aware of Mr. Prude’s death in mid-April with the release of the autopsy’s findings, but made no public mention of the case until this week, even as protests erupted nationwide over the mistreatment and brutality directed at Black people by the police.



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