Rochester mayor, police chief say they won't resign amid Daniel Prude protests

Sunday, September 6, 2020
Officers suspended after Daniel Prude dies during encounter; His daughter speaks out
Seven police officers involved in the suffocation death of Daniel Prude in Rochester, New York, have been suspended.

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The mayor and police chief of Rochester, New York, put up a united front on Sunday, saying they have no intention of resigning amid protests over the death of Daniel Prude in police custody.

Speaking at a press conference, Mayor Lovely Warren and Police Chief La'Ron Singletary reaffirmed their intention to remain in charge and help reform the city.

"For everything that we've seen this year, it is clear to me that there is more work to be done, and I am committed to doing what's necessary," Warren said. "And I know the chief is committed to doing what's necessary, to better serve our citizens and our community. That was the job I was elected to do, that was the job that he took an oath to serve."

Singletary told reporters that while there was a rumor he might resign, he said he has no intention of doing so and hasn't been asked by the mayor to do so.

The press conference came after a fourth night of protests over the death of Prude, a naked 41-year-old Black man who was having a mental health emergency on March 23.

Though Prude died in March, attorneys for his family released police body camera video this week that shows officers covering his head with a "spit sock" and holding him on the ground in a prone position before he stopped breathing. Prude stopped breathing and was declared brain-dead at a hospital, where he died a week later on March 30.

The Monroe County medical examiner ruled his death a homicide, citing complications of asphyxia in the setting of physical restraint. The report also cites excited delirium and acute PCP intoxication as causes of death.

New York Attorney General Letitia James announced Saturday that she's forming a grand jury to investigate his death.

The long-delayed announcement that a Black man had been killed by police has led to protests and accusations that local leaders hid the killing from the public.

On Thursday, Warren indicated she had initially been misled by Singletary, who she said led her to believe the man died in police custody of an overdose.

But on Sunday, Warren said the police chief provided the information he knew when he had it.

Mayor explains why she suspended officers

Warren said that after she saw the body camera footage on August 4, she sent a list of requests to the chief regarding what she needed to know in future cases.

"Once I saw that video on August 4th, I informed the chief that whenever there is a death in our community or use of force, that I needed to be informed within 24 hours," Warren said.

Singletary said that he was aware there was a use of force in the case, but didn't elaborate further on what aspects of the case he knew at what times.

Warren told reporters that between April 1 and August 3, she didn't recall hearing the words "Daniel Prude."

There have been no in-custody deaths since Prude died in March, Singletary said in response to a reporter's question.

Warren suspended with pay seven officers involved in Prude's arrest on Thursday. She said Sunday that she moved to suspend them after learning that there was no longer concern for interfering with the New York attorney general's investigation of Prude's death.

"Our understanding from our law department was that the attorney general's office was in the middle of their investigation and therefore we could not get in the middle of that investigation," Warren said. "The attorney general came out and said that we could proceed, and so it was my belief that we needed to suspend the officers and that we needed the attorney general's office to finish their independent review."

Warren said she believes the investigation being conducted and reviewed by the city council will show that the city did everything in accordance with what the law says.

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