The chief of the Rochester Police Department announced he would resign Tuesday following the release of shocking footage of the March death of a 41-year-old Black man in police custody.
La’Ron Singletary leaves the department after 20 years under heavy scrutiny over the death of Daniel Prude. He said earlier this week he would not depart his position.
His top two officers in the department—Deputy Chief Joseph Morabito and Deputy Chief Mark Simmons—also announced they would step down from their positions. Simmons will stay on as a lieutenant, as will resigning commander Henry Favor. Another commander, Fabian Rivera, resigned Tuesday. Singletary did not name a successor.
City council members told Rochester’s Democrat & Chronicle they learned of the resignations as they happened. The city’s mayor, Lovely Warren, had previously accused Singletary of failing to handle the Prude incident properly, saying she only learned of the March death in August after Prude’s family obtained bodycam footage. She also said earlier this week that she ultimately supported Singletary. The New York Attorney General's office has opened an investigation into the death.
“For the past two decades, I have served this community with honor, pride, and the highest integrity,” Singletary wrote in a resignation letter. “As a man of integrity, I will not sit idly by while outside entities attempt to destroy my character. The events over the past week are an attempt to destroy my character and integrity.”
He decried what he described as the “mischaracterization and the politicization” of Prude’s death.
According to the Democrat & Chronicle, Singletary’s personnel file depicted him as a “patient and professional” law enforcement officer. He started in the department as an intern in 1998, and the mayor previously described him as “dedicated to changing the culture of policing.”
Prude died March 30, seven days after Rochester police detained him, put a spit hood over his head, forced him to the ground, and rendered him brain dead. The Monroe County medical examiner ruled the death a homicide, citing “complications of asphyxia in the setting of physical restraint due to excited delirium due to acute phycyclidine [PCP] intoxication.” His brother had called 911 for assistance dealing with Prude’s mental health crisis.
Joe Prude called the police’s actions “cold-blooded murder.” He called for the Singletary’s resignation and those of other top police department officials.
Mounting outrage over Prude’s death, the shocking police body-worn camera footage of his detainment, and the amount of time that elapsed before police went public with the incident have inspired protests for nearly a week in Rochester.