Rochester Police Chief, Command Staff Announce Retirement amid Protests over Death of Daniel Prude

Rochester Police Chief, La’Ron Singletary speaks during a news conference regarding the protests over the death of Daniel Prude in Rochester, N.Y., September 6, 2020. (Brendan McDermid/Reuters)

The chief of the Rochester Police Department and his command staff announced their retirement Tuesday following days of anti-police protests in the city over the death of Daniel Prude.

Just days after insisting that he did not intend to resign amid protests, Rochester Police Chief La’Ron Singletary released a statement Tuesday announcing his retirement and calling criticism of his handling of the investigation an “attempt to destroy my character.”

“As a man of integrity, I will not sit idly by while outside entities attempt to destroy my character,” the police chief of the city in upstate New York said in a statement.

“The members of the Rochester Police Department and the Greater Rochester Community know my reputation and know what I stand for,” Singletary continued. “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 city’s top cop added that he is honored to have served Rochester for two decades and commended his staff.

Mayor Lovely Warren told the Rochester City Council that the entire police department’s command staff also announced their retirement on Tuesday.

Prude, a 41-year-old black man, was declared brain-dead and died in the hospital seven days after he was arrested on March 23 as he experienced a mental health crisis. Last week, attorneys for Prude’s family released police body camera footage showing officers placing a “spit sock” over the head of Prude, who was naked, and holding his face to the pavement for two minutes. Prude’s brother had called the police for help.

The Monroe County medical examiner ruled Prude’s death a homicide, citing complications of asphyxia as well as excited delirium and acute PCP intoxication as causes of his death.

Singletary’s retirement will be effective September 29.

The attorney for Prude’s children called the police chief’s decision to retire “an important and necessary step to healing and meaningful reform in the community.”

“Clearly, the conduct of the officers in Mr. Prude’s case was inhumane, and the subsequent cover-up was unacceptable,” read a statement from attorney Antonio Romanucci. “We look forward to securing justice for Mr. Prude and to having Rochester leaders do the hard work needed to address issues of systemic racism and training protocols in the police department.”

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