ROCHESTER, N.Y. (CBS/AP) — Rochester, New York police Chief La’Ron Singletary and his entire command staff are retiring less than a week after protests erupted over the death of Daniel Prude, a Black man from Chicago, in Rochester police custody.
Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren said Singletary submitted paperwork to resign. Deputy Chief Joseph Morabito and the command staff are also retiring, CBS affiliate WROC-TV reported.
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 Prude’s death.
Activists have been calling for Singletary, as well as Mayor Warren, to resign in the wake of revelations about Prude’s death back in March.
As quoted by WROC-TV, Singletary issued the following statement:
“After 20 years of dedicated service to the Rochester Police Department and the Rochester Community, I announce my retirement from the Rochester Police Department. For the past two decades, I have served this community with honor, pride, and the highest integrity.
“As a man of integrity, I will not sit idly by while outside entities attempt to destroy my character. 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.
“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.
“I would like to thank the men and women of the Rochester Police Department, as well as the Rochester Community for allowing me the honor of serving as your Chief and fulfilling a lifelong dream. I look forward to continuing to serve our community in my next chapter.”
Prude, 41, was a Chicago resident visiting Rochester on March 23, when his brother called the police because he was having a mental health issue. From there, the moments leading up to his eventual death were all captured on police body camera.
The body cam video shows Rochester officers detaining a naked 41-year-old Daniel Prude in the early hours of March 23. Prude was ordered to lie on the ground.
Police put his hands behind his back and handcuffed him.
The video shows Prude yelling and spitting as he lies completely naked on the snow-covered ground. A white spit hood is placed on his head. Later, an officer appears to be pushing his head into the pavement.
Prude goes on to become unresponsive. He was taken to the hospital, where he died days later. His death was ruled a homicide, caused by “complications of asphyxia in the setting of physical restraint.”
Mayor Warren on Thursday announced that she had suspended the seven officers involved in Prude’s arrest. Warren said she is making the move against the advice of counsel. The officers were on full duty until Thursday.
But the head of the union representing police officers in Rochester said the video of Prude suffocating after being taken into custody does not tell the whole story about what happened that night in March.
On Saturday, New York Attorney General Letitia James announced she had moved to empanel a grand jury to investigate Prude’s death.
Protests, some of which have turned violent, have been ongoing since the news about Prude’s death broke last Wednesday. On Monday, several protesters sat naked except for spit hoods in a protest outside Rochester’s police headquarters.
(© Copyright 2020 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)