ROCHESTER, N.Y. – New York Attorney General Letitia James announced Saturday that she will empanel a grand jury as part of her investigation into the death of Daniel Prude in Rochester.
Activists have marched nightly in Rochester since police body camera videos of the encounter with the Black man visiting from Chicago were released this week by his family.
“The Prude family and the Rochester community have been through great pain and anguish," James said in a statement. "My office will immediately move to empanel a grand jury as part of our exhaustive investigation into this matter.”
Prude died of the effects suffocation after he was held by the police last spring.
Seven police officers involved in the suffocation death of Prude have been suspended by the city’s mayor, who said she was misled for months about the circumstances of the fatal encounter.
A union leader defended the officers Friday, saying they followed their training “step by step.”
Prude died when he was taken off life support on March 30. That was seven days after officers who encountered him running naked through the street put a hood over his head to stop him from spitting, then held him down for about two minutes until he stopped breathing.
In the hours before his encounter with police, Prude appeared to be spiraling into crisis. He had been thrown off a train the day before for disruptive behavior and was sent to the hospital for a mental health evaluation.
Prude’s death and the actions of the officers have intensified the debate over whether police should be responding to calls about people suffering mental health crises.