Fired Rochester Police Chief Says Nothing 'Egregious' In Officers' Handling Of Slain Daniel Prude
“I told the mayor there were no strikes, there were no punches with regard to the video,” La’Ron Singletary said.
February 09, 2021 at 2:51 pm
Update (February 8, 2021): The former chief of Rochester Police, who was fired last year after a video surfaced of officers suffocating 41-year-old Daniel Prude, said he did not see anything in violation of department policy when observing body camera footage of officers detaining the Black man. One week following the altercation, Prude was taken off life support.
In Friday’s live-streamed deposition that lasted hours, La’Ron Singletary answered questions for the first time since last summer regarding the March 2020 incident, according to the Democrat & Chronicle. The unprecedented resolution was negotiated after Singletary refused to answer a court summons, citing that he was no longer an employee of the city.
NBC News reported that the city council’s fact-finding review is separate from a current grand jury investigation into the man’s death. The review's purpose is to discover who knew details about the encounter as it was happening and what was done with such information.
"Did it occur to you to simply tell the truth in public and let the chips fall where they may, rather than lying or retiring?" attorney Andrew Celli asked during the deposition.
By the time Singletary spoke with Mayor Lovely Warren on March 23, Warren said he watched scenes from the body camera footage multiple times, and he didn’t see anything “egregious.”
“It appeared that there was nothing egregious at that point in time,” Singletary said he told Warren. “I explained to the mayor that we were going to be doing an investigation. I told the mayor there were no strikes, there were no punches with regard to the video.”
The county medical examiner said Prude died as a result of “complications of asphyxia in the setting of physical restraint” but noted that the narcotic PCP was a contributing factor.
In December, Singletary argued in legal filings that Warren urged him to leave out facts and leak false information to support her account, and it wasn’t until months later that she learned key details into the cause of Prude’s death, The AP reported. During the deposition, Singletary said he was asked to “provide false information” to legitimize Warren’s agenda.
Rochester officials over the weekend released a statement saying, Singletary “downplayed what occurred from the very beginning through today, and believes that neither he nor anyone in the Rochester Police Department, did anything wrong.”
The Prude incident was withheld from the public until August, the Democrat & Chronicle reported, and footage was later released by the family. Following the release of the video, protests erupted calling for Warren and the other officers involved to quit. Before Singletary could announce that he was resigning, Warren fired him for allegedly keeping key details away from her. Singletary argues that she asked him to lie and fired him when he refused, the Chronicle reported.
Update (September 4, 2020): Seven police officers in Rochester, New York, have been suspended for their role in the killing of 41-year-old Daniel Prude, who died in March after being suffocated.
According to NBC News, Mayor Lovely Warren made the announcement at a Thursday news conference, saying the officers were suspended with pay "against the advice of counsel."
"Mr. Daniel Prude was failed by our police department, our mental health care system, our society, and he was failed by me," the mayor said. "I must apologize to the Prude family and to all of our community."
As Blavity previously reported, footage of the incident was released on Thursday, showing the officers pressing Prude’s face into the ground for more than three minutes while he was handcuffed. According to CNN, Warren said the suspended officers include those who were seen on the body camera footage and others who "had a duty to stop what was happening."
"Mr. Prude lost his life in our city,” the mayor said at the news conference. “He lost his life because of the actions of our police officers."
The confrontation started after Prude’s family called police on March 23 to get help for the 41-year-old, who was experiencing a manic episode. When officers arrived at the scene, they found Prude naked on a snow-covered street.
The distraught man put his hands behind his back after police asked him to get on the ground multiple times while pointing their Tasers. Officers then threw him to the ground and held his head against the pavement while he was handcuffed.
The tension escalated when police put a hood over Prude’s face, which they later described as a precaution to protect themselves from the coronavirus.
“Take this s**t off my face,” Prude says in the video. “I mean it, you’re trying to kill me.”
The struggle continued for three minutes as Prude remained pinned to the ground."He started throwing up, now it looks like he doesn't even have chest compressions," one of the officers said in the video.
Medics performed CPR on him shortly after arriving at the scene, but he was deemed “non-responsive.” According to the medical examiner’s report, the Rochester man was killed by homicide, due to “complications of asphyxia in the setting of physical restraint.”
"I placed the phone call for my brother to get help, not for my brother to get lynched," Daniel’s older brother, Joe, said. "When I say get lynched, that was full fledged, murder, cold-blooded — nothing other than cold-blooded murder. The man is defenseless, naked on the ground, cuffed up already. You killed a defenseless Black man, a father's son, a brother's brother, a nephew's uncle."
Warren said the union might fight to protect the officers, but she is determined to keep police accountable.
"I have never shied away from taking action and holding our police, or anyone, who fails in their duties to our community accountable," the mayor said in a statement. "I understand that the union may sue me for taking these officers off our streets. They should feel free to do so."
Warren added that the city's police chief lied, leading her to believe Prude died of an overdose while in police custody. The mayor, who saw the body camera footage for the first time last month, said Prude would have been treated differently if he was white.
"Institutional structural racism led to Daniel Prude's death,” she said. “I won't deny it. I stand before it and I call for justice upon it."
The family of the late Prude is now coping with the death of their loved one while still dealing with the trauma of seeing countless Black men and women dying at the hands of police.
"How many more brothers got to die for society to understand that this needs to stop?" Joe said. "And I can't even share with y'all the pain that I'm feeling, and my family is going through as well."
Daniel's family is calling for the officers involved in the death of their loved one to be fired and arrested.
Original story (September 3, 2020): A family is demanding justice after they released footage of Rochester Police detaining 41-year-old Daniel Prude by pressing his face into the ground for more than three minutes, which led to his death, in part, by suffocation in March.
According to CBS News, on Wednesday, family members said they called police on the morning of March 23 to assist the 41-year-old who was experiencing a manic episode.
At 3:16 a.m, Prude, kneeling naked on a snow-covered street, was approached by an officer who asked him to get on the ground multiple times with a Taser pointed at the man. Prude follows the direction, puts his hands behind his back and is handcuffed.
As several other officers arrive on the scene, Prude prays and pleads for them to leave him alone.
Moments later, officers are seen slipping a hood or “spit sock” over his head. Police later told investigators that Prude was spitting at them and they were concerned about contracting the coronavirus, according to CBS News.
Police and the 41-year-old continued to argue and yell until three officers threw him to the ground, and then held his head against the pavement.
“Take this s**t off my face,” Prude says in the video. “I mean it, you’re trying to kill me.”
After more than three minutes under restraint, an officer said "he started throwing up, now it looks like he doesn't even have chest compressions," CNN reported.
When medics arrived, they performed CPR on Prude but he was deemed “non-responsive” in an ambulance 11 minutes after police first arrived.
The medical examiner's office determined Prude was killed by homicide, due to “complications of asphyxia in the setting of physical restraint” in connection to “excited delirium” under narcotic intoxication.
According to CBS News, the 41-year-old’s brother, Joe, condemned the actions at a Wednesday press conference.
"I placed the phone call for my brother to get help, not for my brother to get lynched," he said. "When I say get lynched, that was full fledged, murder, cold blooded — nothing other than cold blooded murder. The man is defenseless, naked on the ground, cuffed up already. You killed a defenseless Black man, a father's son, a brother's brother, a nephew's uncle."
Rochester police said Joe had called police because his brother ran out of the house after returning from the hospital where he had been admitted for suicidal thoughts, according to CNN.
The Prude family lawyer, Elliot Shields, said attorneys are beginning the process of filing a wrongful death lawsuit. Shields said one of the reasons the family hadn't spoken publicly before was due to the unavailability of police body cam footage.
Leaders from the social movement group Free the People Roc, a Black Lives Matter affiliate, named three officers they say were involved in the incident. Prude’s family is also calling for the firing and arrest of all the officers involved in the 41-year-old’s death.
Police have not yet confirmed the identities of the officers in involved.
“This is an ongoing emergency”— Nessa D🦋 (@VanessaDWatson) September 2, 2020
Daniel Prude was executed by Rochester Police in MARCH and not only was this information just released today (six months later), the officers are still on active duty
*From Free the People ROC on Facebook* pic.twitter.com/elGl3JQ6fa