Several police officers from top posts have stepped down from their service in Rochester, including La’Ron Singletary, the city’s police chief. Amidst strong criticism and nightly protests, the en masse retirement comes after the mishandling of the suffocation death of Daniel Prude, which led to the man’s death, earlier this year.
Mayor Lovely Warren announced this surprising chain of events, listing La’Ron Singletary, the city’s police chief, Deputy Chief Joseph M. Morabito, and possibly other senior commanders as those who handed over their resignations on Tuesday. At a City Council briefing held online, Warren stated, “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.”
Council members had expected the chief to appear in person to discuss continuing protests against the death of Daniel Prude, a 41-year-old Black man who was seen wearing nothing but a spit-hood and was being manhandled by police officers, leading him to suffocate and stop breathing. Prude died several days after being on life support since the encounter with police March 23.
In an emailed statement to local TV station 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 further added in the statement, saying “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.” Appointed as chief in 2019, he said he looks forward to “continuing to serve our community in my next chapter”.
Uncertain about when the retirements will actually take place, Warren expressed her concern over who the next chief of the third-largest city in New York might be, especially since protests are raging on with each day.
The seven police officers involved in the encounter were suspended a day after the body cam video was released last week, later, and state Attorney General Letitia James said Saturday she would form a grand jury and conduct an “exhaustive investigation” into Prude’s death.