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Rochester mayor fires police chief for covering up Daniel Prude’s death

New documents show Chief La’Ron Singletary was involved in keeping details about Prude’s death from the public.

Daniel Prude AP

Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren fired Police Chief La’Ron Singletary this week after newly released documents proved he had been involved in the cover-up of details surrounding Daniel Prude’s death. Singletary had previously denied any participation in the conspiracy and was set to resign in two weeks.

According to The New York Times, the 323-page internal document contains proof that Rochester police actively tried to suppress evidence about Prude’s interaction with officers on the day of his arrest. On July 4, Deputy Chief Mark Simmons emailed Singletary and advised that Prude’s family not be allowed to see the now-viral video of his detainment in order to prevent potential “blowback” from the public.

“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,” he wrote in the email, as previously reported by REVOLT. “That would simply be a false narrative, and could create animosity and potentially violent blowback in this community as a result.”

Now, the newly released evidence has included Singletary’s response, which was: “I totally agree.” Furthermore, other police reports and internal reviews have shown that officers overstated Prude as a threat during his arrest. For example, one police report that initially identified Prude as an “individual” received an editor’s note saying, “Make him a suspect.”

Mayor Warren originally did not ask for Singletary’s resignation and said he was “committed to doing what’s necessary to better serve our citizens and our community.” However, she changed course on Monday (Sept. 14) and fired him two weeks before his resignation would have gone into effect.

“This initial look has shown what so many have suspected — that we have a pervasive problem in the Rochester Police Department, one that views everything through the eyes of the badge and not the citizens we serve,” she said. “It shows that Mr. Prude’s death was not taken as seriously as it should have been by those who reviewed the case throughout city government at every level.”

Along with the termination of Singletary, Warren also suspended her communications director and the city’s attorney for 30 days without pay. After the video of Prude’s arrest was posted online, she also placed seven of the officers involved on leave, pending an investigation by the New York Attorney General’s Office.

“I have apologized to the Prude Family and this community for the failures that happened along the way, including my own,” Warren added in a statement. “As Mayor, I own these failures. And as Mayor, I have an obligation, once identified, to do everything to fix them.”

Prude died in March, one week after police detained him, covered his head with a “spit hood” and pressed his face into the ground for two minutes while he was experiencing a mental episode. The Monroe County Medical Examiner’s Office has ruled his death a homicide caused by asphyxiation complication by PCP intoxication.

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