© 2023 WSHU
NPR News & Classical Music
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

NY AG Investigation Clears Suffolk Officers Of Wrongdoing In Use-Of-Force Case

Police car
Scott Davidson

New York’s Attorney General Letitia James has cleared Suffolk County Police of any wrongdoing in the death of a handcuffed man in Patchogue last July. Her investigation found officers acted appropriately.

According to interviews, and dash and body-camera footage, state investigators said police tried for more than 20 minutes to calm a naked and incoherent Wenzola Rountree who was in the backyard of a 911-caller’s backyard. Rountree then took off and entered a separate family’s home. Body camera footage shows police entering the home and wrestling Rountree to the ground.

“Put your hand behind your back. We don’t want to hurt you,” an officer can be heard saying.

Rountree then became unresponsive, and officers and EMS began CPR. He was later pronounced dead at the hospital.

The AG’s investigation concluded that while Rountree died because of the physical altercations with police, because of the minimal use of force, criminal charges against police were not justified.

Charles is senior reporter focusing on special projects. He has won numerous awards including an IRE award, three SPJ Public Service Awards, and a National Murrow. He was also a finalist for the Livingston Award for Young Journalists and Third Coast Director’s Choice Award.