Updated 09/07/2012 10:40 AM
Grand jury report released in Pinet death
About four months after a vigil was held remembering Raul Pinet Jr. and calling for reform at the Onondaga County Justice Center, a grand jury found that Syracuse police officers and Onondaga County Sheriff's Deputies acted appropriately when they arrested and detained the 31-year-old. Yesterday that grand jury report was released. And as YNN's Erin Clarke tells us victims advocates don't believe justice has been served.
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SYRACUSE, N.Y. -- No charges will be filed in the death of Raul Pinet Jr. who died from Asphyxia after being restrained at the Onondaga County Justice Center. But in a report made public the grand jury who found that law enforcement acted appropriately seem to acknowledge that change needs to be made.
Onondaga County Sheriff Kevin Walsh said, "It was based upon the facts of the case as presented and I have no qualms about the things that they asked us to consider to be put into place,"
The grand jury recommended that a commission be formed to educate emergency responders on how to recognize emergency medical situations and to recommend protocols to follow in these instances. The report also says more education and training is needed on the effects of abused drugs. And that new protocols for the Sheriff's Emergency Response Team should be research and changed to minimize the risk of death.
Sheriff Walsh says many of these things are now being done. While the Sheriff is pleased with the report, victims’ advocates are not. Another report documenting the same incident with details based on video recording from inside the jail included information that is not in the grand jury report.
An account of deputies restraining Pinet Jr. in a way that put pressure on his chest in between two visits from a nurse is included in the State Commission of Correction report released this summer, but is not addressed in the grand jury report. Discrepancies like these concern the New York Civil Liberties Union.
"The system has had its chance at seeking justice and telling the truth and it has failed," said Barrie Gewanter, NYCLU CNY Chapter Director.
Gewanter refers to a case 15 years ago where another inmate died in a similar situation and the NYCLU believes independent oversight of the jail is the only way to make sure policies and procedures are in place to prevent other deaths while in custody.
Gewanter says, "The report still leaves many questions unanswered as to whether command officers followed Sheriff's Department policies and procedures for emergency response team and restraint of a prisoner."
The NYCLU is continuing to seek full accountability from the Sheriff's Department. Gewanter says if justice is not served, the family of Raul Pinet Jr. at least deserves to know exactly what went on behind the Justice Center walls that day in 2010.