“I am extremely disappointed”, commented the first magistrate of the State of New York, while recalling that the jurors were sovereign in the matter.
In American criminal law, the Crown sometimes convenes a grand jury, which, after reviewing the case, must decide whether or not to prosecute and go to trial.
“We were awaiting a different decision than the one handed down today by the grand jury,” Letitia James said. But “at the end of the day, we have to respect this decision.”
A video of the arrest, which dates back to March 23 in this city in the far north of New York State, was made public in early September.
Naked in the street when the police arrived, Daniel Prude was unarmed and was quickly handcuffed, before one of the officers present put a hood over his head to prevent him from spitting on the police because he said he had contracted the coronavirus.
The video then showed an officer pressing with both hands on a hood placed on the head of Daniel Prude, who eventually passed out.
The 41-year-old man, who was unarmed and was in the throes of a psychotic episode at the time of his arrest, died a week later in hospital, without ever coming out of a coma.
The case had sparked a series of protests as well as the resignation of Rochester Police Chief La’Ron Singletary, who is African American.
The forensic institute concluded, after an autopsy, that the death of Daniel Prude was a homicide, linked to “asphyxiation resulting from a physical constraint”.
The death of Daniel Prude echoed those of George Floyd or Breonna Taylor, also black, during violent arrests, which have sparked hundreds of demonstrations in the United States since May.