Rochester Police Department (RPD) chief La’Ron Singletary and several other high-ranking RPD officials resigned yesterday (September 8) after a newly released police cam video sparked allegations of a coverup in the March death of a Black man, Daniel Prude, the New York Times reported.
Singletary, Deputy Chief Joseph Morabito and a commander reportedly retired, but not at the request of city leadership.
“As a man of integrity, I will not sit idly by while outside entities attempt to destroy my character,” Singletary, who is Black, said in a statement according to WXII News. “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.”
Two other RPD officials—a deputy chief and commander—were reportedly demoted. Activists are also calling on Rochester’s Democratic mayor, Lovely Warren, to step down. But she has resisted, insisting that she, too, was misled for months by the RPD, which reportedly told her that Prude died from a drug overdose, not from having a hood put over head and being asphyxiated.
On September 3, Warren suspended seven of the officers involved. The New York State Attorney General’s office announced its own investigation on September 2.
Prude’s sister, Tameshay Prude, filed a civil rights lawsuit in U.S. District Court for the Western District of New York yesterday (September 8) against the City of Rochester, Singletary and the other officers who were involved in her brother’s death. The lawsuit accuses the city of violence against residents and subsequent coverups:
"The City and RPD’s cover up [sic] of Mr. Prude’s death and refusal to discipline the defendant RPD officers is standard operating procedure. In fact, Mr. Prude’s death was caused by the policy, practice and customs of the City and RPD that condones and encourages officers to use excessive force as a matter of course, and to lie in official police paperwork and sworn testimony to justify their unlawful actions. The RPD’s policy, practice and custom of utilizing force without justification is caused by the willful failure of the City and the RPD to discipline officers who engage in misconduct, and particularly the failure to discipline officers who use force without justification."
With much of the RPD’s top tier either retiring or demoted, the community activism group Free The People Roc shared the reaction below, via Facebook: