Rochester mayor fires police chief, suspends city attorney over death of Daniel Prude

Rochester mayor fires police chief, suspends city attorney over death of Daniel Prude
© Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images

Rochester, N.Y., Mayor Lovely Warren (D) said Monday she is firing the city's chief of police and suspending its city attorney in the aftermath of the death of Daniel Prude in police custody in March. 

Warren’s announcement that she is firing Rochester Police Chief La'Ron Singletary comes one week after he said he would be stepping down from the position but would stay on through the end of the month. 

“This initial look has shown what so many have suspected, that we have a pervasive problem in the Rochester Police Department,” Warren said at a hastily arranged press conference, according to The Associated Press. “One that views everything through the eyes of the badge and not the citizens we serve. 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.”

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Warren also said she would suspend Corporation Counsel Tim Curtin and Communications Director Justin Roj without pay for 30 days.

"I accept the discipline issued by Mayor Warren today," Roj said in a statement posted to Twitter. "At no time, before August 4, was I aware of what had happened to Mr. Prude, and when i saw the video I immediately expressed by opinion within City Hall that the officers involved should no longer be on our streets."

"I personally believe that Mr. Prude would be alive today if the responding officers recognized his humanity, and acted with compassion and restraint," he added. 

Roj added that Singletary told him in an email of an ongoing criminal investigation and said the mayor was already informed. 

“In hindsight, I agree that I should have questioned the Chief further and/or taken the opportunity to discuss his email with the mayor,” he said. 

Warren on Monday also called for a federal review of the Prude case. She said she requested that the U.S. attorney’s office conduct an investigation into the “possible violations of Mr. Prude’s civil rights,” according to WROC

Prude, a Black man, died of asphyxiation after local police put a hood over his head and pressed his head to a street for two minutes. He had been seen running naked outside. 

Prude’s death gained national attention earlier this month after his family released records and footage of the incident, which has fueled ongoing protests over police brutality and racial injustice that were sparked by the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis in May.