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State Bar task force on racial justice will examine issues involving Rochester police killing

September 10, 2020 Rob Abruzzese

The New York State Bar Association issued a statement on Wednesday following the revelation that members of the Rochester Police Department killed an unarmed mentally ill person on March 30 and failed to release relevant details to the case for months.

In the statement, President Scott Karson said that the “tragic death” of Daniel Prude at the hands of Rochester cops undermines trust communities have in police and promised that the bar association’s Task Force on Racial Injustice and Police Reform would look into the relevant issues.

“Trust between a community and its police department is the foundation of our criminal justice system, without which the entire system is called into question,” Karson said. “The circumstances surrounding Mr. Prude’s tragic death, coming on the heels of far too many similar incidents across the nation, undermine that trust.”

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“The decision by Rochester Police to keep details of this incident hidden from the public until forced to reveal them raises numerous questions about the use of force by law enforcement, the handling of mentally ill individuals by the police and the transparency of police departments, for which we do not yet have sufficient answers. We will await the outcome of ongoing investigations and legal inquiries until passing judgment,” Karson continued.

“In the meantime, NYSBA has established a Task Force on Racial Injustice and Police Reform that is analyzing many of these important issues. We look forward to the issuance of its report and recommendations.”

Co-chaired by Andrew Brown, from Rochester, and New York City’s Taa Grays, the task force was established following the death of George Floyd, who died after a Minnesota police officer kneeled on his neck for nearly nine minutes. The task force is working to create a report to recommend legal changes in an effort to curb violence committed by police officers against people of color.

Specifically, it will look into ways to create greater transparency and accountability within the police department itself through the use of body cameras, other technology and training. It also wants to promote oversight of police conduct that is more inclusive with local communities, and to establish ways prosecutors can better investigate and respond to police misconduct.


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