The family of a Mandan man who collapsed Saturday while in police custody and later died is waiting for the truth, their attorney said Wednesday, as authorities offered no new details about the cause of the man’s death or the circumstances leading up to it.
John “Ernie” Prudente Jr., 36, died Saturday at a Bismarck hospital. He drove off after Mandan police made a traffic stop about 5 p.m., according to information from the department. He pulled into the driveway of a home that Morton County records show is owned by a John Prudente, where he fought with officers and continued to struggle after being handcuffed, then “became limp and unresponsive,” police said.
Prudente’s sister, Cody Prudente, referred calls to Grand Forks attorney Amanda Corey, who confirmed that the family had retained her on Wednesday. Corey said she’s not retained for a specific lawsuit -- “we’re not that far yet” -- and added that attorneys also can be retained “to protect people’s rights.” She would not comment on any aspect of the investigation into Prudente's death, noting it's in the hands of North Dakota’s Bureau of Criminal Investigation.
“We look forward to the truth coming out,” Corey said.
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Tribune requests to the North Dakota Department of Health for information on autopsy results and a report of death for Prudente were referred to BCI.
BCI spokeswoman Liz Brocker referred inquiries about the investigation and autopsy results to the Mandan Police Department. Deputy Chief Lori Flaten said Wednesday that the department had not received any new information.
John Prudente Sr. on Wednesday declined to speak to the Tribune when approached at the home where the incident occurred. The family is preparing for a Saturday funeral.
State court records do not indicate a violent criminal history for John Prudente Jr.
Neither of the two officers placed on standard administrative leave following the incident has had any disciplinary issues in the past, Flaten said. Police have refused to publicly name the officers.
Officers administered CPR and used an automated external defibrillator, the police department said. A recording of radio traffic from the incident indicates that Narcan also was administered. Narcan is used to treat opioid overdoses, according to Bismarck Burleigh Public Health Director Renae Moch. But it does not necessarily indicate that a person was using drugs. Law enforcement officers are trained to administer it as a precaution even if an overdose is not confirmed, because there are no negative effects.
Reach Travis Svihovec at 701-250-8260 or Travis.Svihovec@bismarcktribune.com