ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — New York State Attorney General Letitia James was in Rochester Sunday.
“I offered my deepest condolences to Daniel Prude’s loved ones especially, today which would have been his 42nd birthday; it’s also the birthday of his grandfather,” James said. “I also stand in solidarity with the entire Rochester community yearning for positive change.”
The attorney general’s office has been investigating the death of Daniel Prude since April. Sunday’s appearance in Rochester was the attorney general’s first visit to the city since news of Prude’s death became public earlier this month.
“We need a full review about what it is police currently do in a community and reevaluation by the public of what we want them to do especially when it comes in response to a mental health crisis. Poverty and mental illness should not be crimes and they should not be crimes that result in death,” James said.”
The attorney general held a press conference at Aenon Missionary Baptist Church, after meeting with members of the Prude family earlier and is scheduled to meet with local civil rights groups Free the People ROC, and United Christian Leadership Ministry.
James announced a new policy that the attorney general’s office will independently release body camera footage after the family of a victim has seen it, and no longer wait for local authorities to release the footage.
“Up until now the release as been up to the discretion of local authorities, but this process has caused confusion, delays and has hampered transparency in a system that should be as open as possible,” James said. “Starting immediately, the Office of Attorney General will actively be releasing footage to the public on our own. We will no longer wait for local authorities to determine when videos should be made available to the public and we will be doing this with eye towards making the footage available to the public as quickly as possible, publicizing the footage as soon as we have shown it to the deceased family.
“We will take into account applicable security, HIPPA laws and other privacy concerns, but we will move as swiftly as possible so the public no longer has to wait months and months before seeing video in the hands of law enforcement,” James said. “This new policy will help to prevent instances where the public has been kept in the dark for far too long such as what happened in the Prude case.”
The attorney general maintains that her office did not instruct City of Rochester officials to withhold information on the Prude case from the public.
“There are no emails or letters — in fact, the the contrary,” James said. “Ms. Summers had indicated to the police department as well to the administration, the local administration that our policy up until now not to release the video, whether or not they use that as an excuse to suppress the video is anyone’s guess, but I’m confident that Ms. Summers did not intimate or suggest or otherwise indicate to the authorities that they she should suppress the video. All the emails that I’ve seen so far in the media would suggest that they used our policies and practices as an excuse to suppress the video and that’s unfortunate.”
The attorney general also announced that her office would have a link on her website where protesters could submit videos, photos, and testimony of police conduct during protests.
“Our civil rights bureau might be considering the events of the interactions between protesters and the Rochester police,” James said. “We have not made a final decision, but similar to our investigation of NYPD’s interactions with protesters in New York City, we might be conducting a similar investigation, including, but not limited to a public hearing like what we did in New York City.”
Additionally, the attorney general said she wants to consider changing the Freedom of Information Act so there’s penalties for those who abuse it, which attorneys for Prude’s family says the City of Rochester did in this case.
At the end of the media availability, the attorney general said “I”ll be back.”
Prude, a 41-year-old Black man from Chicago, died after an encounter with Rochester police back in March, but news of the incident just came to light on September 2.
The autopsy report from the Monroe County Medical Examiner’s Office ruled the death of Prude a homicide. The report says Prude’s cause of death includes “complications of asphyxia in the setting of physical restraint.” The report also showed that Prude also had a small amount of PCP in his system at the time of his death, which could explain his erratic behavior.
A federal civil lawsuit filed from the Prude family against the City of Rochester alleges there was an internal cover-up. Aside from Singletary, several other high-ranking members within the RPD’s command staff have also announced retirements.
MORE | Daniel Prude timeline: From March encounter with police to current protests in Rochester
Seven Rochester police officers have been suspended with pay in connection to the incident: Officers Mark Vaughn, Troy Taladay, Paul Ricotta, Francisco Santiago, Andrew Specksgoor, Josiah Harris, and Sgt. Michael Magri.
Protests have been ongoing in Rochester since the news broke September 2.
The latest stories regarding Daniel Prude
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- Rochester City Council hosts listening session on Daniel Prude’s death, protests
- Attorney on first amendment rights of protesters: ‘The government must protect these rights’
- Rev. Jesse Jackson coming to Rochester, Rev. Stewart calls for arrest of officers in Prude death
- City officials announce creation of crisis intervention program in Rochester
- PAB wants to be part of Daniel Prude conversation: ‘This is what people voted for’
- Breaking down City of Rochester’s 323-page report into Daniel Prude death investigation
- Mayor Warren: Chief Singletary out, city’s communication director, lawyer suspended, review underway
- Lupien, Barnhart ask DOJ to investigate police response to Rochester protests
- Demonstrators call for district attorney’s resignation in 12th straight night of protests in Rochester
- Daniel Prude demonstration in Rochester for 11th night in a row
- Rochester man charged for ‘attacking officers with laser’ during protest for Daniel Prude
- Daniel Prude’s family arrives in Rochester for peaceful celebration of life event
- Joe Prude opens up about brother: ‘There will never be another Daniel’
- Rochester City Council questions Mayor Warren, Police Chief Singletary, RPD staff on protest response
- Rochester police union president Mike Mazzeo denies seeing Daniel Prude video in April
- Rep. Morelle: Mayor Warren, other leaders should ask themselves if they can still be a positive force
- Free the People ROC hosts town hall on policing and public health
- City Council president says Mayor Warren told her Prude’s death was an overdose after mayor saw video
- City of Rochester officials say police union president Mike Mazzeo received Daniel Prude video in April
- Mayor Lovely Warren, Rochester police union president call on each other to resign
- Police use of spit hoods scrutinized after Daniel Prude’s death in Rochester
- Depew Police say Daniel Prude was asked to leave Amtrak train on March 22, day before police encounter
- Rochester police union: Chief’s office said ‘no concern of actions’ by officers at Daniel Prude scene
- Mental health experts: Prude needed help, not police
- 8 arrested, 2 officers injured, pepper spray deployed during Daniel Prude protest in Rochester
- Mayor Lovely Warren: RPD Chief told me Daniel Prude died from an apparent drug overdose
- Daniel Prude’s brother: ‘He didn’t have history of mental health issues’
- Gov. Cuomo on Daniel Prude death: ‘What I saw was deeply disturbing and I demand answers’
- 7 Rochester police officers involved in Daniel Prude death suspended with pay
- Daniel Prude, Black man killed by Rochester police, remembered as loving
- Rochester civil rights groups demand firing, prosecution of officers involved in Daniel Prude’s death
- Protests in Rochester after bodycam video surfaces in death of Daniel Prude
- Daniel Prude’s family demands justice for ‘cold-blooded murder’
- Protest in Rochester sparks after news of Daniel Prude’s death
- Autopsy report: Daniel Prude death ruled a homicide, died from asphyxia due to ‘physical restraint’
- 9 arrested in Rochester during protest at Public Safety Building over Daniel Prude’s death
- WATCH: Footage of encounter between Daniel Prude and Rochester police officers before his death
- Daniel Prude’s death, police encounter caught on body camera sparks NY AG investigation, protests in Rochester