Feb 23, 2021
No charges against officers involved in Daniel Prudes death
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Police officers shown on body camera video holding Daniel Prude down naked and handcuffed on a city street last winter until he stopped breathing will not face criminal charges, according to a grand jury decision announced Tuesday.
The 41-year-old Black man’s death last March sparked nightly protests in Rochester, New York, after the video was released nearly six months later, with demonstrators demanding a reckoning for police and city officials.
State Attorney General Letitia James, whose office took over the prosecution and impaneled a grand jury, said “the criminal justice system is badly in need of reform.”
Lawyers for the seven police officers suspended over Prude’s death have said the officers were strictly following their training that night, employing a restraining technique known as “segmenting.” They claimed 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 as an officer pushes his face against the ground, while another officer presses a knee to his back. 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.
Democratic Mayor Lovely Warren fired police chief La’Ron Singletary shortly after the video’s release, while rejecting calls from demonstrators that she resign. Singletary has said in legal papers that Warren told him to lie to support her assertion that she hadn’t learned of Prude’s death until months later, and fired him for his refusal to do so. A city spokesperson said his version of events confirms Warren never saw the video until August.
Warren announced a run for a third term in January and pleaded not guilty in October to an unrelated indictment alleging she broke campaign finance rules and committed fraud. The city’s public integrity office found no ethical lapses by the mayor in a narrow review of Prude’s death.
The city halted its investigation into Prude’s death when James’ office began its own investigation in April. Under New York law, deaths of unarmed people in police custody are typically turned over to the attorney general’s office, rather than handled by local officials.
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Police Video Reveals California Man Who Died In 2017 Said I Cant Breathe
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP/CBS13) — A man being restrained by Fresno police officers and sheriff’s deputies cried out “I can’t breathe!” in the moments before he died, body camera footage released Friday shows.
The video of the May 2017 death of 41-year-old Joseph Perez was made public under a federal court order as attorneys for his family pursue a lawsuit against members of the two police agencies and paramedics from American Ambulance.READ MORE: This Is A Liberty Issue: Group Representing Placer County Restaurant Owners Threatens To Sue Newsom Over COVID Regulations
“The Perez family is deeply troubled by the circumstances leading to Joseph’s death, especially in light of the police violence epidemic plaguing the country,” attorney Neil Gehlawat said in a statement.
The release comes as former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin is set to go on trial Monday in the death last year of George Floyd. Floyd, a Black man, died May 25 after Chauvin, who is white, pressed his knee against Floyd’s neck while Floyd was held face-down on the ground handcuffed and saying he couldn’t breathe.
Tony Botti, a spokesman for the Fresno County Sheriff-Coroner, said he couldn’t comment on the video, “due to it being an ongoing litigation matter.”
Recently retired Fresno Police Chief Andy Hall said in a separate video synopsis released by the department that he had wanted to release the video earlier but the family had objected.
“Despite Mr. Perez’s personal struggles, it saddens all of us when a life is lost,” Hall says in the video, expressing condolences to the family. Hall said the death was investigated by multiple agencies, all of which found no use of excessive force and that officers followed policies as they tried to help Perez.
The department said at the time that officers from both agencies responded to a call “saying there was a man acting strange, running and yelling on Palm Ave.” They called for an ambulance “due to his mental state” and out of concern that he might be under the influence.
He died on the way to the hospital. Hall said Perez had a toxic level of methamphetamine, though Gehlawat said that did not contribute to his death.READ MORE: California Allowing Theme Parks, Ball Parks And Stadiums To Reopen With Strict Limits On April 1
Perez is initially responsive but agitated and whimpering in the video from a Fresno police officer’s body camera, which lasts 16 minutes and 33 seconds. There are seven law enforcement officers at the scene, according to the Perez family attorneys, and they can be heard repeatedly telling him to calm down and breathe, that they are there to help him.
It was not until paramedics arrive and help officers restrain him with a blue plastic backboard that he becomes unresponsive.
“Help me!” Perez called out as the ambulance pulled up along the sidewalk of the busy street.
“We’re going to put it on his back, and you guys can sit on this,” a paramedic tells the officers. ”Sit on that board.”
The video then shows officers pressing Perez facedown with the backboard. Hall said an officer sat on the board for 1 minute and 15 seconds.
“Hey, dude, I want you to relax, OK,” someone says. “Joseph, you ok? Joseph, you all right? You all right dude?”
“He’s moving,” someone else responds moments before the video shows people restraining Perez’s apparently limp hand with a leather strap.
His family’s attorneys said Perez was unarmed and died of compression asphyxia.MORE NEWS: Girl, 12, Rescued From Human Trafficking In Vallejo; Man, 19, In Custody
“Compression asphyxia during restraint is all too common and we hope to expose this pervasive tactic used by law enforcement officers across the country,” said Gehlawat.