State Attorney General’s Office impaneling grand jury to investigate Daniel Prude’s death

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — The State Attorney General’s Office is impaneling a grand jury to investigate Daniel Prude’s death.

The jury is not seated yet.

Wednesday, News10NBC Chief Investigative Reporter Berkeley Brean spoke to the lawyer who used to run the Attorney General’s Office in Rochester and now defends police officers.

Brean: "Have you seen the video that everybody has seen?"

Gene Welch, Partner, Tully Rinckey Law Firm: "I have."

Gene Welch was the assistant attorney general for Rochester for 15 years in the 80s and 90s.

He’s now a partner at the firm Tully and Rinckey.

He does not represent any of the suspended RPD officers.

Brean: "And when you watch it what do you see?"

Welch: "A very sad situation. The man was at Strong Memorial Hospital, was released. The brother wanted help because the brother knew he had issues. The police officers show up and do what they were taught to do in that circumstance. And the EMTs show up and no one is paying attention to whether or not the man is breathing. That’s really very sad."

Brean: "Do you see a crime committed?"

Welch: "That’s for 23 people to decide."

Brean: "Based on your experience, what do you see?"

Welch: "I don’t know what I would say about that."

Twenty-three people is the size of a grand jury. It could be as little as 18.

Welch says there is no deadline for the grand jury to act.

Brean: "Are the rules different when it comes to investigating a police officer or private citizen? Is the bar higher?"

Welch: "No. The bar is no higher. You still have to have probably cause to believe the police officer committed a crime."

Brean: "What is the defense here if you are representing one of these seven police officers?"

Welch: "Well the defense is we followed our training. We did what we were taught to do when we had a man who was acting out irrationally and we had no idea that he might die. That would be the defense. Whether that’s true or not is another matter because there’s a whole body of studies that say if you leave a man lying on his stomach for too long a period of time especially if there are other drugs involved he may asphyxiate."

The autopsy ruled Daniel Prude’s death a homicide.

Cause of death?

Asphyxia, excited delirium and acute PCP intoxication.

An RPD internal investigation report dated April 27 concludes the officers acted appropriately and consistent with their training.

The Police Union told Brean the officers were trained on that exact situation 30 to 40 days prior to March 23.

The union says they acted "exactly the way they were trained."

Click here for full coverage on the death of Daniel Prude.