Rochester mayor calls for federal investigation into death of Daniel Prude

15 Septembre, 2020, 17:40 | Auteur: Anatole Charbonneau
  • Prude attorney releases statement on city's report on death

Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren fired the police chief and suspended both her top lawyer and communications director on Monday amid outrage over the March suffocation death of Daniel Prude.

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. But a review of the case has now led to his ouster.

"We have a pervasive problem in the Rochester Police Department, one that views everything through the eyes of the badge", Warren said Monday during a hastily announced news conference.

The mayor contended that the report, which is more than 300 pages long, showed that Daniel Prude's death wasn't taken as seriously as it should have been by those at all levels of city government who were familiar with it.

At a news conference on Monday, Ms Warren said she had permanently relieved Chief Singletary and suspended Corporation Counsel Tim Curtin and Communications Director Justin Roj without pay for 30 days. Mark Simmons was named Acting Chief for the next 30 days.

The report comes as Rochester has been gripped by almost two weeks of protests and finger-pointing among top officials over who knew what and when after Prude's death was ruled a homicide. Prude stopped breathing and was declared brain-dead at a hospital, where he passed away March 30.

The autopsy report from the Monroe County Medical Examiner's Office ruled that Prude's death was a homicide caused in part by "complications of asphyxia in the setting of physical restraint".

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Prude, who had mental health issues, was naked at the time of his arrest, and was handcuffed and pinned down to the pavement with a "spit hood" placed over his head as officers restrained him for two minutes before he lost consciousness.

"The members of the Rochester Police Department and the Greater Rochester Community know my reputation and know what I stand for", Singletary said.

Singletary resigned last Tuesday along with his command staff, saying there had been a "mischaracterisation and politicization" of his actions following the death of Prude in police custody. When Singletary announced his retirement, officials also said Deputy Chief Joseph Morabito and Commander Fabian Rivera were retiring.

"The events that have unfolded today have taken us completely by surprise, as they have everyone else", the Rochester police union, known as the Locust Club, said in a prepared statement.

Curtin could not be reached by phone to comment on his suspension. It also demonstrates the systemic problems within the department, and the City's deliberate indifference to the department's culture of lying about excessive force incidents to cover for the offending officers.

New York Attorney General Letitia James has said she will investigate Prude's death and take the case to a grand jury.

Seven police officers involved in the arrest were suspended on 3 September, shortly after protests erupted following the release of the video of Prude's arrest.

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