Feb 23, 2021
New York grand jury votes not to indict police officers for Daniel Prude death
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A grand jury in New York state voted not to indict police officers for the death of Daniel Prude, a Black man who died of asphyxiation while in police custody in March 2020 in the city of Rochester, state Attorney General Letitia James said on Tuesday.
Prude’s family obtained body-worn camera footage of Prude’s death that showed him naked in a dark, snowy street.A so-called mesh "spit hood" was placed over his head after he told officers he had contracted the novel coronavirus. The video also shows Prude, apparently in the middle of a mental health crisis, being restrained against the ground by police.
The footage was released in September, further fueling ongoing nationwide protests against police violence following other high-profile episodes in 2020 where police killed Black men and women, including the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police in May.
FILE - In this undated file photo provided by Roth and Roth LLP, shows Daniel Prude. Prude, 41, who suffocated after police in Rochester, N.Y., put a "spit hood" over his head while being taken into custody. (Courtesy Roth and Roth LLP via AP, File)
The trial of Derek Chauvin, the former police officer seen kneeling in videos on Floyd’s neck for more than eight minutes, begins in Minneapolis on March 8.
James said her office had hoped to secure indictments in the death of Prude, a 41-year-old father of five children who lived in Chicago.
"I know that the Prude family, the Rochester community and communities across the country will rightfully be disappointed this outcome," James said at a news conference in Rochester, a city in upstate New York. Citing the court-enforced secrecy surrounding grand-jury proceedings, James declined to say what charges her office had presented to jurors.
A lawyer for Prude’s family and the Rochester mayor’s office did not immediately respond to requests for comment.Video
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Prude had visited his brother and ran out of the house in the middle of the night, prompting the brother to call the police, concerned for Prude’s mental health and reporting that he had taken PCP, an illegal drug.
Police officers found Prude naked, approached him with a stun-gun and told him to put his hands behind his back so they could handcuff him, which Prude did, according to a report by James’ office. Less than 10 minutes later, he stopped breathing. Efforts to revive him foundered in the ambulance, and he was taken off life support a week later.
An autopsy found he died of asphyxiation following the restraining holds used by police and excited delirium, a complex syndrome that can be triggered by recreational drug use.
FILE - In this Sept. 3, 2020, file photo, Joe Prude, brother of Daniel Prude, right, and his son Armin, stand with a picture of Daniel Prude in Rochester, N.Y. (AP Photo/Ted Shaffre, File)
Soon after the video emerged last September, Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren fired Police Chief La’Ron Singletary. Seven police officers involved in the arrest were suspended; their lawyers told local media they had followed their police training appropriately.
Singletary’s successor, Police Chief Cynthia Herriott-Sullivan, said in a statement her department would respect the jury’s decision and that it would continue to reform the way its officers respond to mental illness.
"My heart goes out to the Prude family during this difficult time," her statement said. The officers involved remain suspended while an internal investigation continues, she said.Video
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Donna Lieberman, executive director of the New York Civil Liberties Union, criticized the grand jury for choosing "impunity, not accountability."
"The Rochester Police Department took Daniel Prude’s life while he was in crisis," Lieberman said in a statement. "He deserved services and supports, not for his life to end."
James, the attorney general, also made new recommendations for how cities respond to mental health crises on Tuesday, urging that emergency personnel be trained in recognizing the symptoms of excited delirium syndrome.
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Body Believed to Be Kentucky Man Found Inside Grand Canyon
GRAND CANYON NATIONAL PARK, Ariz. (AP) — A body believed to be that of a Kentucky man previously reported missing at Grand Canyon National Park was found along with a motorcycle inside the canyon, park officials said Thursday.
Searchers on Wednesday found the body believed to be that of John Pennington, 40 of Walton, Kentucky, approximately 465 feet (142 meters) below the South Kaibab Trailhead, officials said in a statement.
Evidence found with the body indicated it was Pennington, who was believed to have entered the park on or about Feb. 23, the statement said.
The National Park Service and the Coconino County Medical Examiner's Office were investigating the incident, the statement said.
The statement said no additional information was immediately available and a park spokeswoman, Ranger Joelle Baird, did not immediately respond to an inquiry from The Associated Press regarding whether there was any indication Pennington purposely drove into the canyon.
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