Rochester mayor fires police chief amid leadership shake-up over Daniel Prudes death
The city’s corporation counsel was also suspended with pay.
September 15, 2020, 1:26 AM
• 5 min read
Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren fired Police Chief La’Ron Singletary Monday, two weeks before he was set to retire from his command, as part of leadership changes following a review of Daniel Prude’s death.
Warren told reporters that the cursory management review of the city’s handling of the March 23 incident showed that the city did not take Prude’s death as seriously as it should have. She said changes needed to happen immediately.
“The initial look has shown what so many have suspected, that we have a pervasive problem in the Rochester Police Department — one that views everything through the eyes of the badge and not the citizens we serve,” she said at a news conference.
In addition to ousting Singletary, Warren suspended Rochester Corporation Counsel Tim Curtin and Communications Director Justin Roj for 30 days without pay for “failure to act, inform and follow policy and procedures,” she said in a statement.
Singletary announced last week that he was retiring on Sept. 29 because of the ongoing investigation into Prude’s death. Six other department leaders announced they will vacate their roles at the end of the month.
The shakeup came a week after police body camera footage was released showing the incident between the officers and Prude, 41. Prude’s brother, Joe, called 911 to get help, saying Daniel was having a mental health emergency.
In the video, officers approach Prude, who is naked, and Prude initially complies with the officers’ orders. Prude is subsequently seen shouting and spitting, which prompts officers to place a spit bag over his head.
The officers are then seen pinning Prude to the ground while the bag is still on his head, and he eventually goes lifeless. Prude died a week later.
Seven officers involved with the incident have been suspended as the New York state attorney general conducts her investigation. Several protests broke out in the days following the release of the video, with some of them turning contentious as police broke up crowds who marched through the city.
Warren said she would enact several reviews from the report. The mayor called for the City Office of Public Integrity (OPI) to initiate a thorough investigation to determine if any employees — including herself — violated city policies or ethical standards.
She also called on the U.S. attorney general to investigate whether Prude’s civil rights were violated in the arrest.
“I have apologized to the Prude family and this community for the failures that happened along the way, including my own,” Warren said in a statement. “As mayor, I own these failures.”
ABC News’ Joshua Hoyos contributed to this report.