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Cuomo Calls for Swift Conclusion to AG's Probe Into Death of Daniel Prude
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Daniel Prude's brother, Joe Prude, stands outside Rochester City Hall
Credit: Max Schulte/WXXI News

After video this week showed police in Rochester placing a bag over the head of a Black man during an arrest, and then pinning him down, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Thursday that he wanted the state Attorney General’s Office to expedite its investigation into the incident.

The man, Daniel Prude, died after the incident on March 23 and, according to news reports, the cause of death was determined to be asphyxiation.

A graphic video made public this week showed the interaction between police and Prude, who was found naked on a street in Rochester and was said to have been in the middle of a mental health episode when members of law enforcement approached him.

Prude immediately laid down on the ground when police approached him, according to the video, and was placed in handcuffs. But police officers placed a bag over his head a few minutes later, and eventually pinned him to the ground while they waited for an ambulance.

Seven officers involved in the incident were suspended on Thursday, according to Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren.

While the Rochester Police Department and the city of Rochester can conduct their own investigation into the incident, that authority also lies with the state Attorney General’s Office.

After the death of Eric Garner, whose last words “I can’t breathe” became a rallying cry for the Black Lives Matter movement, Cuomo issued an executive order that required the Attorney General’s Office to investigate when someone dies during an interaction with police.

Cuomo said Thursday that he wanted the probe to be finished as soon as possible.

"Last night, I watched the video of Daniel Prude's death in Rochester. What I saw was deeply disturbing and I demand answers,” Cuomo said.

"For the sake of Mr. Prude's family and the greater Rochester community I am calling for this case to be concluded as expeditiously as possible. For that to occur we need the full and timely cooperation of the Rochester Police Department and I trust it will fully comply."

Attorney General Letitia James said Thursday that her office is still in the middle of the investigation, but encouraged the city of Rochester to conduct its own internal review in the meantime as well.

“We encourage both Rochester and the RPD to proceed with an internal review simultaneous to our investigation,” James said. “The Prude family and the greater Rochester community deserve answers, and we will continue to work around the clock to provide them.”

If her office finds evidence of criminal wrongdoing, it has the power to charge the officers involved in the death of Daniel Prude.