ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren announced Thursday that the officers involved in the death of Daniel Prude have been suspended.
“I am suspending the officers in question today against council’s advice, and I urge the attorney general to complete her investigation,” Mayor Warren said. “I understand that the union may sue the city for this, they shall feel free to do so — I have been sued before.”
In total, seven Rochester police officers are suspended with pay: Officers Mark Vaughn, Troy Taladay, Paul Ricotta, Francisco Santiago, Andrew Specksgoor, Josiah Harris, and Sgt. Michael Magri.
Prude, a 41-year-old Black man from Chicago, died after an encounter with Rochester police back in March, but news of the incident just came to light Wednesday, and now the case is being investigated by the New York State Attorney General’s Office.
MORE | WATCH: Footage of encounter between Daniel Prude and Rochester police officers before his death
“Mr. Daniel prude was failed by our police department, our mental health care system, our society and, he was failed by me,” Mayor Warren said. “Daniel Prude’s death has proven yet again that many of the challenges that we faced in the past are the same challenges that we face today.”
Earlier Thursday, local civil rights groups gathered on the steps of City Hall to demand the immediate firing and prosecution of the officers involved in the March incident.
“In addition I have addressed with the police chief how deeply, personally, and professionally disappointing — he needs to do better to truly protect and serve our community and I believe he will,” Mayor Warren said. “I have since order the chief to provide me with video from any in-custody death, or use of force incident, within 24 hours, and charge him to provide a plan within 30 days to further address the police department’s response to mental health calls.”
Included in more resources for mental health calls, Mayor Warren’s plan calls for the city to provide $300,000 to “double availability of Monroe County FIT Team, or retool the FACIT program to respond to mental health 911 calls, until permanent solution is developed.
That autopsy report from the Monroe County Medical Examiner’s Office ruled the death of Prude a homicide. The report says Prude’s cause of death includes “complications of asphyxia in the setting of physical restraint.” The report also showed that Prude also had a small amount of PCP in his system at the time of his death, which could explain his erratic behavior.
“I was informed later by Mr. Singletary that Mr. Prude had an apparent overdose while in custody,” Mayor Warren said. “I only learned of those officers actions on August 4 when cooperation council Tim Curtin reviewed the video for the FOIL request by Prude’s family. At no time before August 4 did Singletary or anyone make me aware of the officers’ actions in regard to Mr. Prude’s death.”
Community Justice Initiative representatives said protests would continue “non-stop” until justice is served. They also called for the resignation of Rochester Police Chief La’Ron Singletary.
MORE | Rochester civil rights groups demand firing, prosecution of officers involved in Daniel Prude’s death
The mayor said Chief Singletary has been reprimanded for his role in the events that have transpired since Prude died in March.
“What I saw in that video was a man who needed help, a man who needed compassion, and a man who needed humanity, a man who we should have respected, and a man who was in crisis — our response to him was wrong,” Mayor Warren said. “I failed to serve our community to fight injustice, to stand up to those in need, and ensure everyone has a fighting chance at life.
“In this case, my failure in all of this, that I am truly sorry for using my legal mind in all of this,” Mayor Warren said. “I’m an attorney by trade and with the mindset of an attorney and not necessarily the mindset of a human being — a mother, a friend, a sister, a daughter, a cousin — I didn’t rely on the very fabric of what makes me.”
The mayor said she supported City Council in calls to drop all charges for protesters who were arrested during Wednesday’s demonstrations.
“I join with City Council in asking that the charges against the protesters be dropped,” Mayor Warren said. “I’m filled with grief and anger at myself for all the failures that led to his death. I know that I must do better as a leader in this community. We all must do better as leaders in this community.”
Earlier Thursday, activists expressed disappointment in leadership locally and across the nation when it comes to racial injustice.
“This is about Black people that’s fed up, we’re tired,” said Miquel Powell, Community Justice Initiative. “Every time I wake up, there’s a Black person dying, whether it’s in Rochester or national news. We’re tired, man. The pandemic ain’t do nothing but shine a light on how oppressed black people really are. How in the middle of a national pandemic you got Black folks that still fighting for their rights? Everybody should be worried about the pandemic, but were worried about dying. So we’re fed up. We need to make sure those officers responsible are terminated today, and arrested today — no more waiting.”
Check back with News 8 WROC as we will continue to update this developing story.