NY Attorney General Letitia James is forming a grand jury to investigate the death of Daniel Prude, a Black man who died in March after Rochester police put a hood over his head, which suffocated him.
The state prosecutor made the announcement on Saturday and said the grand jury will be part of an “exhaustive investigation,” reports AP.
The Attorney General’s office has been investigating the incident since April, but this week’s public release of body-cam footage from the altercation, as well as four nights of protests in Rochester, have likely contributed to recent developments in the case. On Thursday, Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren suspended seven police officers who were involved in the detainment of Prude.
Under New York law, deaths of unarmed people in police custody are often turned over to the attorney general’s office, rather than handled by local officials.
Police union officials have said the officers were strictly following department training and protocols.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo earlier this week called on James to expedite the probe.
“Today, I applaud Attorney General Tish James for taking swift, decisive action in empaneling a grand jury,” Cuomo said in a statement Saturday. “Justice delayed is justice denied and the people of New York deserve the truth.”
“The Prude family and the Rochester community have been through great pain and anguish,” James said in her announcement about moving to form a grand jury to probe the circumstances of his death.
The victim’s brother had called the police for help because Prude was exhibiting erratic behavior and went missing from his home in upstate NY, where Prude was visiting from Chicago. Video footage show that the responding officers apprehended Prude and covered his head with a “spit hood,” shortly after which he went unresponsive on the ground—while they laughed at him and mocked him.
Prude ultimately had to be put on life support but died a week later from complications of asphyxia while being restrained, according to a medical examiner’s report.
“I placed a phone call for my brother to get help. Not for my brother to get lynched,” Joe Prude said at a press conference on Wednesday.