Several days ago Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren was praising the Rochester Police for using restraint and deploying far fewer officers at one of the city’s large and intense, yet peaceful, demonstrations over the March death of Daniel Prude, a Black man. Prude died by asphyxiation after being restrained by officers. Much of the encounter was caught on video.
On Tuesday Police Chief La’Ron Singletary announced that he was retiring from the force as protests continued. Two members of the Rochester Police Department command staff announced that they were also resigning.
Mayor Warren confirmed the stunning development.
“The chief was not asked to give his resignation, because I do believe he is giving his very best,” said Warren, who promoted Singletary to the post in April 2019.
She admitted that the exodus of senior leaders, especially at this time, would be “difficult” in terms of finding an interim replacement for police chief.
In a statement issued Tuesday afternoon, Warren said Singletary will remain in charge of the department through the end of the month, and she will meet with the City Council to “chart a path forward.”
“While the timing and tenor of these resignations is difficult, we have faced tough times before. We will get through this together,” Warren said.
Warren ordered the suspension -without pay-of seven police officers who were involved in Prude’s arrest last week after video footage of the encounter was released.
As NPR reported:
“Warren said she was told that Prude had overdosed in police custody, and did not see video of the encounter until Aug. 4.
“She said she has since ordered Singletary to provide her with video from any in-custody death or use of force incident within 24 hours.”
In the days since the footage surfaced, community members have accused Singletary of covering up the circumstances of Prude’s death and called for him as well as the mayor to resign.
For almost six months the Rochester Police Department chose not to release a videotape showing the heart wrenching circumstances surrounding the death of 41-year-old Daniel Prude while being restrained by police in the middle of the street naked with a so-called “spit-hood” over his head as his head was held to the ground.