Rochester Mayor Fires Police Chief After Daniel Prude Death

Elias Hubbard
September 15, 2020

Police chief La'Ron Singletary announced his retirement last week.

Additionally, the mayor is also calling for public transparency with criminal investigations involving officers in an effort to "adopt and embrace a robust process driven by an engaged public to bring systemic reform to the Rochester Police Department, City Hall and beyond to remove the pervasive culture of insularity and acceptance from law enforcement". "Frankly the public should have been informed of Mr. Prude's death and the circumstances that led to his death in March, and after seeing the video, I should have conducted a formal review".

Chief Singletary has denied that his department tried to keep details of Mr Prude's death out of public view.

At a news conference on Monday, Ms Warren said she had permanently relieved Chief Singletary and suspended Corporation Counsel Tim Curtin and Communications Director Justin Roj without pay for 30 days.

The mayor contended that the report, which is more than 300 pages long, showed that Daniel Prude's death wasn't taken as seriously as it should have been by those at all levels of city government who were familiar with it.

His death has sparked almost two weeks of nightly protests and calls for Warren's resignation after his relatives released police body camera video and written reports they obtained through a public records request.

Prude's family has filed a federal lawsuit alleging that the Police Department sought to cover up the true nature of his death, starting with what Warren said was Singletary reporting to her early on that Prude had an apparent drug overdose.

Warren says she's apologized to Prude's family for "failures". She said changes needed to happen immediately.

In March, officers found Prude running down the street naked and placed him in a hood to prevent him from spitting. Prude's sister, Tameshay, sued as executor of his estate and named the city of Rochester, Singletary and officers involved in the arrest as defendants.

While being held down he stopped breathing and died a week later after being taken off life support.

The autopsy report from the Monroe County Medical Examiner's Office ruled that Prude's death was a homicide caused in part by "complications of asphyxia in the setting of physical restraint".

The autopsy also showed that Prude had a small amount of PCP in his system at the time of his death, which could explain his erratic behavior.

Seven officers involved with the incident have been suspended as the NY state attorney general conducts her investigation.

Roj, the city communications director, responded to his suspension without pay in a statement shortly after Warren's press conference on Monday.

"I accept the discipline issued by Mayor Warren today", Roj said in a statement posted to Twitter.

Roj said he accepted his suspension, but claimed that he was not aware of what happened to Prude until August 4.

"I personally believe that Mr. Prude would be alive today if the responding officers recognized his humanity, and acted with compassion and restraint", he added.

"In hindsight, I agree that I should have questioned the Chief further and/or taken the opportunity to discuss his email with the mayor", he said.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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