Rochester Police Chief Resigns After Investigation Following Daniel Prude’s Death

Rochester, New York’s police chief and deputy chief resigned on Tuesday, resenting the death of Daniel Prude, a black man with mental health issues who was put into a “spit hood” in March and Was controlled by the authorities.

According to a media release from the department, Rochester Police Chief L’Aon Singleri announced that he would retire on Tuesday after 20 years on the police force. Singletary said the events of the past week were “an attempt to destroy my character and integrity.”

“The Rochester Police Department and members of the Greater Rochester community know my reputation and know what I stand for,” Singleri’s resignation said. “The action I took and was politicized after being informed of Mr. Prude’s death is not based on facts, and is not what I stand for.”

Deputy Police Chief Joseph Morabito also announced his retirement on Tuesday.

On the same day the announcement is made, Pruede’s sister Tameshe Proud once again filed a lawsuit against some members of the city and police department, including Singlerie. The complaint claims that Prude’s death resulted from “unlawful force” and “willful disregard”.

The relatives of 41-year-old Proud released police videos of the March 23 encounter on Wednesday and Thursday, claiming that they say officers used excessive force. According to an autopsy report released by the family of Nader Granger, a medical examiner for Munro County, Prude, listed as a contributing factor to the drug PCP, “died of complications of physical restraint.”

Prude’s brother, Joe Prude, said he had mental health and drug problems and was acting on March 22. Joe Prude called 911 that day and Daniel Prude was hospitalized for nearly three hours for a mental health checkup.

The videos show when officers found Prude naked in the middle of a street just after 3am on March 23. Prude complied with the order to land on the ground face and placed his hands behind his back, shown in the video.

While handcuffed, Prud was at one point asking officers for a gun, according to the video. Police said officers spit on the 41-year-old Prude, as they said he had COVID-19.

At one point, it appeared that Prude had stopped breathing. Paramedics tried to revive him, and he was put in a hospital for life-saving assistance, but died seven days later.

Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren announced Thursday that seven officers were suspended, and New York Attorney General Letitia James said Saturday that she had empowered a state grand jury to investigate Prude’s death.

Michael Mezzo, president of the Rochester Police Locust Club, a union representing city officials, said Friday that his members had been told for months that they had done nothing wrong.

Reporters questioned Singletary about a possible resignation during a press conference on Sunday, but the chief merely stated that the report of his resignation was a “rumor” and he was not asked to step down.

Rochester remained the subject of protests for days, as protesters criticized the delay in public information about Prud’s detention and death. It raised questions as to whether Singleri withdrew the information from the mayor as investigations into his death were ongoing, with the chief saying he gave the information on Sunday because it was available to him in the case of a criminal and internal investigation.

Warren said on Sunday that the Chief Minister fully supported him. She supported Singletary’s account and on Sunday said the chief called her after Prud’s custody on March 23, but admitted that she was not aware of the autopsy report in April.

“He handled it the way he needed to handle it internally,” Warren said. “So when they called me, it was the information they had at the time and then they did what they needed to do in the back end.”

The mayor said he was made aware of the video by the city’s law department on August 4 and the chief did “everything possible” to get justice for the Prud family. He said the city council would review the timeline and all relevant documents about the chief’s actions in the case.

Warren also announced police reforms on Sunday, inspired by Prude’s death, saying the city’s crisis intervention team would be forced out of the police department.