In a thread of shocking exchanges of emails between the Rochester Police and other authorities, it has been brought to the forefront that several law enforcement officials attempted to conceal and tamper with information about Daniel Prude’s death.
On Monday, Rochester Police Chief La’Ron Singletary was abruptly fired from his position, by Mayor Lovely Warren, just two weeks before his voluntary retirement. The set of emails following the brutal police encounter that led to the death of Daniel Prude in June also involved attorneys who hid facts and withheld a body cam video footage for months before it was finally released by the victim’s family in August.
In a disgraceful 325-page cache of documents released by City Hall about the city’s mishandling of the Prude case, a lot of ugly details have been brought to the forefront. Possible answers to why the case wasn’t disclosed to the public for five long months and who was working internally to keep it private have all been uncovered under this compilation.
Deputy Chief Mark Simmons wrote in an email on June 4th, “We certainly do not want people to misinterpret the officers’ actions and conflate this incident with any recent killings of unarmed black men by law enforcement nationally. That would simply be a false narrative, and could create animosity and potentially violent blowback in this community as a result.” Through this email, he advised Singletary to press the city’s lawyers to deny a Prude family lawyer’s public records request for the footage of the March 23 encounter that led to his death.
In the same thread, Lt. Mike Perkowski, told a lawyer that he was “very concerned about releasing this prematurely in light of what is going on” and Capt. Frank Umbrino told another police official “any release of information should be in conjunction with and coordinated with the Mayor and the Chief as it very well has some intense ramifications.”
Simmons forwarded both emails to Singletary while suggesting that the city deny the request because the case was still under investigation by the state attorney general’s office.
To this, the Chief responded, “I totally agree.”
Later the same day, as the discussion of the records request continued, city lawyer Stephanie Princesuggested a way to buy more time, which was- to allow the attorney general’s office to show the family the video, as it has done in other cases, but not give them a copy of it.
Amidst the heated controversy, Mayor Warren has maintained that she did not see the body camera footage until city lawyers played it for her on Aug. 4 and that Singletary initially misled her about the circumstances of Prude’s death.