Daniel Prude's death prompts NY attorney general to change policy on police bodycam footage

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New York State Attorney General Letitia James. - Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images/New York Daily News/TNS

NEW YORK — State Attorney General Letitia James on Sunday visited Rochester — site of the grim death of Daniel Prude while in police custody — to announce a new policy for releasing law enforcement officers’ body camera footage.

The AG’s office will “proactively release footage to the public on our own” instead of following the previous status quo, under which local police departments had power over releasing such video, James said.

“Up until now, the release of footage has 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 at Aenon Missionary Baptist Church.

“Starting immediately, the office of attorney general will proactively release video footage to the public on our own. (We will) no longer wait on local authorities to determine when videos should be made available to the public,” she added.

Rochester police have come under heavy criticism for keeping the March 23 death of Prude quiet for months. Footage of the incident — in which Prude, who was Black, died of suffocation after officers put him in a hood — did not surface until earlier this month.

“We will be doing this with an eye to making the footage available to the public as quickly as possible, publicizing the footage as soon as we have shown it to the deceased’s family,” James said of her new policy.

James’ office has convened a grand jury to investigate Prude’s death.

The attorney general declined to go into details of the process, saying she couldn’t yet share what evidence will be presented to the jury or what the charges might be.

But she shared her reaction to first seeing the video of Prude’s death, saying, “I’m outraged.”

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