Rochester Police Chief Resigns Amid Outrage Surrounding Daniel Prude’s Death

In this image taken from police body camera video provided by Roth and Roth LLP, a Rochester police officer puts a hood over the head of 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 a group of police officers put a hood over his head, then pressed his face into the pavement for two minutes, according to video and records released Wednesday, Sept. 2, 2020, by his family. Prude died March 30 after he was taken off life support, seven days after the encounter with police in Rochester. (Rochester Police via Roth and Roth LLP via AP)

By Kelly Moran

ROCHESTER, NY –– Rochester Police of Chief La’Ron Singletary announced his resignation today—conflicting with his initial statement, made just days earlier, that he would stay.

The news comes after the details of Daniel Prude’s death while under police custody earlier this year were revealed. Prude’s family and protestors are urging for the officers responsible to be taken off the force.

The main source of frustration is the body cam footage showing the moments leading up to Prude’s death, released to the family last Wednesday, Sept. 2.

On March 23, Rochester police were notified that a naked man was running around outside yelling that he had coronavirus. This man was identified as Daniel Prude, who was under the influence of PCP, a dissociative hallucinogen, and the caller was his worried brother, Joe Prude.

The police found Daniel in the middle of the street, spitting on the ground, although according to the New York Times’ breakdown of the video footage, “[Prude] does not seem to be aiming at the officers.”

The officers forcibly restrained Prude and slipped a spit hood over his head, watching him continue to spit inside of it and struggle as one officer put his weight on his head, and another on Prude’s back to keep him down.

At one point, Prude stops moving, and the paramedics arrive on the scene and perform CPR on a now unresponsive Prude, whose spit hood was kept on for around 11 minutes before the paramedics reached Prude.

According to the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, shortly after police answered the call, Prude was taken to a nearby hospital. He died a week later, with his death being ruled as a homicide through asphyxiation, which was a result of his physical restraints.

La’Ron Singletary had been promoted as the Chief of Police for Rochester recently, in April of 2019, and wrote that he had served his community with “pride, honor, and the highest integrity” for the past two decades in his resignation announcement.

While the resignation of Singletary has been welcomed by protestors and activists, Singletary upheld his belief that “the events over the past week are an attempt to destroy my character and integrity” in his letter to the public.

According to the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren addressed Singletary’s departure from the force in a press conference in city hall: “I want to assure the Rochester community that the Rochester Police Department will continue to serve and protect our residents and our neighborhoods,” Warren said. “While the timing and tenor of these resignations is difficult, we have faced tough times before. I truly believe that we will get through this.”

The seven officers involved in Prude’s death have also been suspended from the force without pay, yet protestors are pushing for more punitive action in the coming days.

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About The Author

The Vanguard Court Watch operates in Yolo, Sacramento and Sacramento Counties with a mission to monitor and report on court cases. Anyone interested in interning at the Courthouse or volunteering to monitor cases should contact the Vanguard at info(at)davisvanguard(dot)org - please email info(at)davisvanguard(dot)org if you find inaccuracies in this report.

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