Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren fired the police chief and suspended her top lawyer and communications director Monday (September 14) following two weeks of protests over the suffocation death of Daniel Prude, the Associated Press reports.
Last week, Chief Le’Ron Singletary announced his retirement but said he would stay on through the end of the month. He claimed his "character" was being maligned in the ongoing shakeup in the police department.
Warren said at a news conference that she decided to permanently relieve Singletary of his duties while suspending Corporation Counsel Tim Curtin and Communications Director Justin Roj without pay for 30 days following a cursory management review of the city’s role in Prude’s death.
“This initial look has shown what so many have suspected, that we have a pervasive problem in the Rochester Police Department,” Warren said. “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.”
The review by Deputy Mayor James Smith also recommended that the U.S. Justice Department conduct a review of the Rochester Police Department, including a review of all body-worn camera footage for use-of-force arrests over the past three years.
Rochester, New York Police Chief La’Ron Singletary and his command staff are reportedly retiring after a week of protests over the death of Daniel Prude.
According to the Democrat & Chronicle, the 40-year-old became chief in April 2019. He came under heavy scrutiny over the past week after news of Prude’s March death became public. Activists have since called for his resignation.
Deputy Chief Joseph Morabito, the department’s operations bureau head, as well as Commander Fabian Rivera, also announced their retirement.
Deputy Chief Mark Simmons and Commander Henry Favor have resigned their command positions and returned to their previously held ranks of lieutenant.
No successor has yet been named for Singletary, whose retirement will become effective on September 29.
Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren had criticized Singletary for not properly briefing her about Prude’s death and said she had only become aware of the incident on August 4. Prude’s initial encounter with police occurred in the early morning hours of March 23.
"For the past two decades, I have served this community with honor, pride, and the highest integrity," Singletary wrote in his retirement letter. "As a man of integrity, I will not sit idly by while outside entities attempt to destroy my character."
He continued: "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."
The retirement comes as a bit of a surprise as earlier this week Singletary said he would not step away from his post. Warren had also expressed her support for him remaining as police chief.
“I do not believe there’s another person more dedicated to changing the culture of policing than La'Ron," she said.
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