ROCHESTER, N.Y. (AP) — Top police leaders in New York’s third-largest city are retiring en masse amid criticism of the city’s handling of the the suffocation death of Daniel Prude, the mayor of Rochester said Tuesday.
La’Ron Singletary, the city’s police chief, is among those retiring, as is Deputy Chief Joseph M. Morabito and possibly other senior commanders, Mayor Lovely Warren said.
Warren made the surprise announcement of the retirements at a City Council briefing being held online. Council members had expected the chief to appear in person to discuss ongoing protests over the death of Prude, a 41-year-old Black man who died several days after an encounter with police March 23.
“As you all know, this has been a very challenging time for the city of Rochester, and the chief was not asked to give his resignation because I do believe that he’s giving his very best,” Warren told council members.
!!! Entire Rochester, NY Police Command Staff Resigning; Mayor Doesn't Know Who Will Be Protecting the City During Tonight's Riots https://t.co/OwSPQvrjVA
— David Reaboi (@davereaboi) September 8, 2020
In an emailed statement to WXXI, Singletary said Tuesday that “the events over the past week are an attempt to destroy my character and integrity.”
“The members of the Rochester Police Department and the Greater Rochester Community know my reputation and know what I stand for,” he said in the statement. “The mischaracterization and the politicization of the actions that I took after being informed of Mr. Prude’s death is not based on facts, and is not what I stand for. ”
Singletary, who spent his entire career inside the Rochester Police Department, was appointed chief in April 2019. He said he looks forward to “continuing to serve our community in my next chapter.”
Police Chief, and most of the police in Rochester, N.Y., have resigned. The Democrat Mayor and, of courses, Governor Cuomo, have no idea what to do. New York State is a mess – No Money, High Taxes & Crime, Everyone Fleeing. November 3rd. We can fix it!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 8, 2020
“This is great news,” said Iman Abid, speaking for Free the People ROC, which has held nightly protests since details of Prude’s death emerged. “It says to the people that people are able to move things and to shape things. The police chief wouldn’t retire if it weren’t for something that he felt he was accountable to.”
But, she said, nightly protests will continue to push other demands, including the resignation of the mayor, defunding and demilitarizing of police, and development of a state law barring police departments from responding to mental health crises.
Warren didn’t know when the retirements would take effect. It was unclear who would be in charge of police Tuesday night if demonstrators come out for a sixth straight night, as expected. Demonstrators have called for the resignations of both Singletary and Warren, who are both Black.
Singletary, who spent his entire career inside the Rochester Police Department, was appointed chief in April 2019.
Officers found Prude running naked down the street put a hood over his head to stop him from spitting, then held him down for about two minutes until he stopped breathing. He died a week later after he was taken off life support.
His brother, Joe Prude, had called 911 seeking help for Daniel Prude’s unusual behavior. He had been taken to a hospital for a mental health evaluation earlier that night but was released after a few hours, his brother told officers.
His death sparked outrage after his relatives last week released police body camera video and written reports they obtained through a public records request.
Seven police officers were suspended a day later, and state Attorney General Letitia James said Saturday she would form a grand jury and conduct an “exhaustive investigation” into Prude’s death.
Police union officials have said the officers were following their training.
Portland tonight? Nope. Rochester, NY. @elaadeliahu is out covering the BLM-antifa mass gathering. It has been violent there in the past few days and that’s likely to continue. They crowdfund to buy riot gear. #AntifaRiots #BLM pic.twitter.com/4rAHQOrtiU
— Andy Ngô (@MrAndyNgo) September 7, 2020
— Jim Hoft (@gatewaypundit) September 5, 2020
BLM rioters attack restaurant patrons—three police officers injured in Rochester NY riotshttps://t.co/hlDVMuLr9P
— Peaceful Poso (@JackPosobiec) September 5, 2020
S Donna: “here with about 50 elders & 100’s of young peaceful protestors. Police holding their positions..riot police in the wings & drones overhead. A youth went over the fence & another elder & I convinced to come to our side of fence to keep everyone safe.” #DanielPrude #roc pic.twitter.com/q5jWp7wvZT
— SistersofSt.Joseph (@SSJRochester) September 7, 2020
Would you want this unhinged, cop-hater guiding and molding your kids' minds? Well, these are the people who are teaching and informing our kids…https://t.co/VwQ3mKRs3K
— W.E. Dupree (@WayneDupreeShow) September 6, 2020
Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.