Cops involved in ‘spit hood’ death of man in New York face no charges


S police officers who put a spit hood over the head of a black man and pressed his face into the pavement for two minutes, will not face criminal charges after a grand jury declined to indict them.

His death received little public attention at the time because of the Covid-19 crisis.

When body camera footage was released six months after Mr Prude’s death, protests erupted over his treatment by cops.

New York’s attorney general Letitia James announced on Tuesday that her office had “presented the strongest case possible” but they were unable to persuade the jury that officers had committed a crime.

Ms James acknowledged that Mr Prude’s family and communities would be “rightfully disappointed by this outcome” as she condemned a system that had “frustrated efforts to hold law enforcement officers accountable for the unjustified killing of African Americans”.

Lawyers for the seven police officers who were suspended over Mr Prude’s death have said the officers were strictly following their training and that they employed a restraining technique known as “segmenting”.

New York State Attorney General Letitia James speaks at a news conference

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Hundreds of protesters gathered on Tuesday evening on the street where Mr Prude was detained.

Body cam footage that was recoded on the night of March 23 shows Mr Prude, who had taken off his clothes, complying when police ask him to get on the ground and put his hands behind his back.

He is agitated and shouting as officers let him writhe as he sits on the pavement in handcuffs for a few moments.

The officers are seen putting a spit hood over Mr Prude’s head despite objections, with the victim saying: “Trying to kill me”.

The officers slam Mr Prude’s head into the street, then one officer holds his head down against the pavement with both hands, saying “stop spitting” as Mr Prude’s shouts turn to whimpers.

They appear to become concerned when they notice water coming out of Mr Prude’s mouth and paramedics were called.

The family of Daniel Prude, visiting from Chicago and Florida, participate in a community celebration of life in Prude’s memory in September

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The officers had held Mr Prude down for about two minutes until he fell unconscious. He was taken off life support a week later.

A medical examiner concluded that Mr Prude’s death was caused by “complications of asphyxia in the setting of physical restraint”.

The report lists excited delirium and acute intoxication by phencyclidine, or PCP, as contributing factors.

Mr Prude had been evaluated at a hospital for odd behaviour a day earlier but he wasn’t admitted. His family called police on the night of March 23 when they became concerned about Mr Prude’s safety after he bolted from the house.

Mr Prude’s family lawyer Elliot Shields said: “The system failed Daniel Prude again.

“It failed him on March 22 when he was released from the hospital. It failed him on the night of March 23 when the police used deadly force against him. And it failed him again today.”

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.

The officers will remain on leave pending the outcome of an internal investigation, according to Rochester police chief Cynthia Herriott-Sullivan.

The Rochester police union said in a statement it would not immediately comment.

Additional reporting by Associated Press.