The grand jury in the case of 41-year-old Daniel Prude, a Black man who died in March 2020 while in police custody, voted overwhelmingly in favor of not charging the three officers involved.
The New York Times reported that fifteen jurors voted against indicting the officers of the Rochester Police Department with criminally negligent homicide while five voted in favor.
In a rare move, New York Attorney General Letitia James released transcripts of the grand jury proceedings on Friday, the first time in the history of the state that the details of a police-involved death case have been revealed publicly.
National attention is currently focused on cases involving police officers killing Black men and James — who was disappointed by the jury’s February decision — reportedly petitioned a Monrow County Court judge to release the transcripts.
“This nation has a long and painful history of injustice, and every day, we are working to create a fairer and more equal system. Our efforts to balance the scales of justice and ensure accountability can only go so far in the absence of transparency,” James said in a statement.
“We took the unprecedented action of seeking to release the grand jury transcripts because the public deserves to know what happened in these proceedings. As I have throughout my career, I will continue to use every tool at my disposal to shine a light in the corners of our system that have been hidden for too long.”
Prude died of suffocation after police put a hood over his head and pressed his face into the ground for more than three minutes while he was naked and handcuffed, according to CBS News. According to the attorney representing Prude’s family, he had “an acute, manic, psychotic episode,” which led to Prude’s brother, Joe Prude, calling 911 for help.
Body cam video showed Prude kneeling naked in the street. He complied when officers directed him to lay on his stomach while handcuffed. While Prude was yelling, one officer was heard mocking Prude, asking, “You don’t got AIDS, do you? You got HIV?”
The video was released months after it was concealed by city officials, who sought to frame Prude and create a narrative around his death, according to The New York Times. In a document, Prude’s name was circled in red with the message, “Make him a suspect.”
Don Thompson, a lawyer for Joe Prude, Daniel’s brother, expressed his outrage for the advantages police are given with no consequences.
“I’m infuriated. Who other than somebody who wears a special costume for their work gets this kind of deference in a homicide case? No one,” Thompson said.
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