New York's AG Takes Big Step in Death of Prude

Letitia James says a grand jury is coming
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Sep 5, 2020 5:00 PM CDT
Grand Jury Is Coming in Daniel Prude's Death
In this Aug. 6, 2020 file photo, New York State Attorney General Letitia James takes a question at a news conference in New York.   (AP Photo/Kathy Willens, File)

New York's attorney general on Saturday moved to form a grand jury to investigate the death of Daniel Prude, a Black man who died after being hooded and held down by Rochester police earlier this year, the AP reports. "The Prude family and the Rochester community have been through great pain and anguish," Attorney General Letitia James said in a statement of Prude's death. She said the grand jury would be part of an "exhaustive investigation." Prude's death after his brother called for help for his erratic behavior in March has roiled New York's third-largest city since video of the encounter came out earlier this week, with protesters demanding more accountability for how it happened and legislation to change how authorities respond to mental health emergencies.

Another protest was planned for Saturday on the street where Prude was detained. Advocates for such legislation say Prude's death and the actions of seven now-suspended Rochester police officers—including one who covered the Black man's head with a "spit hood" during the March encounter—demonstrate how police are ill-equipped to deal with people suffering mental problems. Having police respond can be a "recipe for disaster," The National Alliance on Mental Illness said in a statement Friday. Prude's death "is yet another harrowing tragedy, but a story not unfamiliar to us," the advocacy group said. "People in crisis deserve help, not handcuffs." Activists have marched nightly in the city of 210,000 on Lake Ontario since videos of the encounter emerged on Wednesday. (Prude's death put a focus on "spit hoods.")

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