Prude Death Investigation

Mayor Lovely Warren on future of Rochester Police Department: ‘I do not have all the answers today’

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren held a 90-second press conference Tuesday at City Hall following the news of the shake-up within the Rochester Police Department, and she did not take any questions from media.

Earlier Tuesday, Chief Singletary, along with the other RPD command staff, announced their retirements.

MORE | Rochester Police Chief La’Ron Singletary retires in wake of Daniel Prude’s death

“I want to ensure our Rochester community that the Rochester police department will continue to serve and protect our residents and neighborhoods,” Mayor Warren said. “Chief Singletary will remain in charge of the department through the end of the month. We have spoke about maintaining restraint through the ongoing protests we as all involved to remain peaceful.

“I can assure this community I am committed to institutional reforms necessary in our police department. I know that there are many questions, but this just occurred and honestly I do not have all the answers today”

Joining Singletary in retirement is Deptuty Chief Morabito, Commander Fabian Rivera, and Commander Elena Correia. Rochester police officials say both Deputy Chief Mark Simmons and Commander Henry Favor are returning to the previously held rank of lieutenant.

Police officials clarified after Mayor Warren told City Council that the entire command staff was retiring.

Mayor Warren informs City Council of RPD retirements

The retirements come on the same day that the Prude family filed a federal civil rights lawsuit Tuesday against the City of Rochester and a number of police officers, alleging an internal cover-up by the RPD and demanding a jury trial in an 82-page document.

Elliot Shields, an attorney for the Prude family, issued the following statement Tuesday regarding the retirement announcements within the RPD:

These resignations are a good first step. But the RPD’s official written determination is contained in a report issued at the conclusion of the investigation conducted by the Major Crimes Unit, dated April 27, 2020, which stated that, after reviewing the body worn camera recordings and interviewing the involved officers, “the officers’ actions and conduct displayed when dealing with Prude appear to be appropriate and consistent with their training.

Mayor Warren and Chief Singletary’s claim that the video is horrible ignores their own department’s determination. They have failed to address or repudiate their department’s conclusion that the officers’ actions were appropriate and “consistent with their training”, which demonstrates a complete lack of leadership. That’s why the RPD needs a complete overhaul—there is much work to be done.

Monroe County Sheriff Todd Baxter issued a statement regarding the change in RPD leadership:

“Today law enforcement in this community suffered a shockwave with the announcement of the impending retirement and reassignment of the command staff at the Rochester Police Department. As your sheriff, I want to reassure the community that we remain steadfast in providing our public safety function.

I have spoken with the County Executive, the Mayor, Chief Singletary and Chief VanBrederode, President Monroe County Chief’s Association, and I have offered our steadfast support to the leadership and members of the Rochester Police Department through this period of transition. I want to ensure the community that you are still going to be safe and we are going to provide any public safety the city and this county needs.”

The Rochester Police Locust Club issued a statement that was critical of the mayor’s office:

“The events that have unfolded today have taken us completely by surprise, as they have everyone else. What is clear is that the problems of leadership go directly to the Mayor’s office. Our priority now is on the dedicated men and woman, who despite unprecedented challenges, continue to do a very difficult job. Our members remain focused and committed to serving the citizens of this city, despite the lack of support and leadership that we are witnessing coming from our elected officials in City Hall.”

The president also weighed in on the situation in Rochester, tweeting about the city for the second time in two days:

Free the People ROC, a local Black Lives Matter group, celebrated the news Tuesday, posting on Facebook:

“We accept Police Chief La’Ron Singletary’s resignation and the resignations of the entire RPD Command Team. Our movement for justice is winning, and it’s because of this incredible community, showing up night after night.

Let’s keep the pressure up until all those responsible for Daniel Prude’s murder and cover up—including Mayor Lovely Warren—have resigned, taken responsibility, and donated their pensions to the families they allowed to be harmed. Together we have the ability to hold those in power accountable and bring an end to systemic police violence in our community.”

Monroe County District Attorney Sandra Doorley chimed in on Twitter:

Tuesday was supposed to kick off a new series of public briefings with Rochester City Council, Mayor Lovely Warren, and Police Chief La’Ron Singletary. However, Chief Singletary announced his retirement moments before it was scheduled to begin.

The planned briefings were announced Monday, when City Council sent a statement that said in part: “During this heightened state in our community, the Council is calling for briefings concerning any interactions between protesters and police officers as well as an opportunity to ask questions and express any concerns.”

Local Black Lives Matter organizers, including representatives from Free the People ROC and Community Justice Initiative, have been calling for the mayor and chief to resign for their handling over the Daniel Prude death investigation. Another local local civil rights group, United Christian Leadership Ministry, said Tuesday that it is not calling for the leaders to resign.

At a press conference Sunday, both Mayor Warren and Chief Singletary said they had no intentions of resigning.

MORE | Prude death investigation: Attorney General’s office says one thing, Mayor’s office says another

Friday, City Councilman Mitch Gruber called for subpoenas to find out what Mayor Warren knew in regards to the death of Daniel Prude that took place on March 23. In a letter, Gruber said in part:

I call upon my City Council colleagues to exercise our subpoena authority to uncover the truth. While I recognize there is an ongoing criminal investigation by the New York Start Attorney General’s office, City Council is granted broad oversight power. We must ensure the public receives an exact account of what the Warren administration knew, when they knew it, and what they did about it.”

Check back with News 8 WROC as we will continue to update this developing story.

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