The chief and entire command staff of the police department in Rochester, New York, resigned on Tuesday — among other department changes — as outrage continued over the death of Daniel Prude, a Black man with mental health issues who died after having been put in a “spit hood” and restrained by officers in March.
Chief La’Ron Singletary announced that he would be retiring after 20 years on the force, according to a news release from the department. Singletary said the events of the past week “are an attempt to destroy my character and integrity.”
By describing his departure as a retirement, and filing his retirement papers, the chief and the other officers will be able to draw on their pension and health benefits.
“The members of the Rochester Police Department and the Greater Rochester Community know my reputation and know what I stand for,” Singletary, 40, said in his resignation letter. “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.”
Deputy Chief Joseph Morabito and Commander Fabian Rivera also announced their retirements Tuesday. Two other high ranking officials, Deputy Chief Mark Simmons and Commander Henry Favor, returned to a lower ranking of lieutenant.
Mayor Lovely Warren said during a City Council briefing Tuesday that the “entire Rochester police command staff” has retired and that “there may be a number of others that will decide to leave, as well.” She insisted to the council Tuesday that Singletary was not asked to resign and that she felt he had given his “very best.”
In a statement Tuesday, Warren said that the chief will remain in charge of the department through the end of the month.
“While the timing and tenor of these resignations is difficult, we have faced tough times before. We will get through this together,” Warren said.”
Tameshay Prude, Prude’s sister, sued the city and some members for the police department Tuesday, including Singletary. The complaint claims that Prude died as a result of “unlawful force” and the “deliberate disregard” for his medical needs.
Relatives of Prude, 41, released police videos of the March 23 encounter last week and claimed that they show that officers used excessive force. Prude died of “complications of asphyxia in the setting of physical restraint,” with the drug PCP listed as a contributing factor, according to an autopsy report released by the family from Monroe County Medical Examiner Nadia Granger.
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SOURCE: NBC News, Doha Madani