Rochester Mayor Fires Police Chief, Suspends Two Top Officials

In this image taken from police body camera video provided by Roth and Roth LLP, Rochester police officers hold down Daniel Prude on March 23, 2020, in Rochester, N.Y. Prude, a Black man who had run naked through the streets of the western New York city, died of asphyxiation after …
Rochester Police via Roth and Roth LLP via AP

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.

The announcement came during a press conference where Warren said that City Corporation Counsel Tim Curtin and Communications Director Justin Roj would be suspended without pay for 30 days for “failure to act, inform and follow policy procedure.”

Originally, police Chief Le’Ron Singletary was set to remain on the force until the end of the month after he announced his retirement last week.

“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, and that it was seemingly viewed by all concerned as an unfortunate set of circumstances, which we all know was not the case.”

According to WHAM-13, Warren is “directing the Office of Public Integrity to investigate whether any city employees, including herself, violated policies or ethical standards in Prude’s death, and she is calling on the U.S. Attorney General’s Office to investigate any possible civil rights violations.”

Additionally, the mayor is also calling for public transparency with criminal investigations involving officers in an effort to “adopt and embrace a robust process driven by an engaged public to bring systemic reform to the Rochester Police Department, City Hall and beyond to remove the pervasive culture of insularity and acceptance from law enforcement.”

In March, officers found Prude running down the street naked and placed him in a hood to prevent him from spitting. He was later held down for an estimated two minutes, and he stopped breathing. He was transported to a hospital, where he was taken off life support a week later.

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