Monroe County mental health official resigns over Daniel Prude email to Rochester police

Daniel Prude

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — A Monroe County official resigned Wednesday morning because of an email she sent to Rochester police regarding Daniel Prude six months ago.

Kimberly Butler, Chief of Clinical and Forensic Services for the Monroe County Office of Mental Health sent information regarding Prude, gathered from Strong Memorial Hospital, to Sgt. Stephen Boily of the Rochester Police Department’s Crime Intervention Program.

The email, sent from Butler to Boily at 4:11 a.m. on March 24, 2020, was included in the City of Rochester’s preliminary investigation into Prude’s death, released earlier this month.

MORE | Breaking down City of Rochester’s 323-page report into Daniel Prude death investigation

News 8 spoke with both Butler, and Sgt. Boily in early August on a story regarding the Monroe County Forensic Intervention Team, known as FIT. The program pairs police officers with mental health experts. After news of Prude’s became public, the FIT team was given increased funding to become a 24/7 resource locally.

Monroe County Executive Adam Bello said Friday that the email from Butler, sent one day after Prude’s encounter with RPD, contained medical information about Prude, including his mental and psychiatric evaluation.

Prude was treated at Strong Memorial Hospital for a few hours on March 22, but was discharged around 11 p.m. A few hours later, after the encounter with police, Prude was back at Strong, but on life support. He was pronounced dead a week later.

Bello says the county’s legal department reviewed the email to make sure that it did not violate the HIPAA and mental hygiene law. After a thorough review, the county’s legal team determined that it was not in line with the law and that it should have never been sent.

Bello says Butler was confronted about the email and resigned the following morning.

“As soon as we saw that email, we took a look at it and said is this right? Does it really fall within the guidelines?” Bello said. “After a thorough review of that we determined that it did not.”

Bello says the county law department is working with the team that was worked with Butler before she resigned to make sure this sort of thing doesn’t happen again.

“Im disappointed that this happened, that there was a violation of the law, and a violation of trust,” Bello said. “The trust that we have with our employee, and also the trust that we have with the community. This is why we took the steps that we took because the system only works if there’s trust, and there’s transparency, and there’s honesty.”

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 on September 2.

The 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.

Less than one week Prude’s death became public, Police Chief Singletary announced his retirement — along with several other members of RPD’s command staff. The following week, Mayor Lovely Warren fired Singletary before his effective retirement date, and named Mark Simmons the interim Chief of Police.

MORE | WATCH: Footage of encounter between Daniel Prude and Rochester police officers before his death

Seven Rochester police officers have been suspended with pay in connection to the incident: Officers Mark Vaughn, Troy Taladay, Paul Ricotta, Francisco Santiago, Andrew Specksgoor, Josiah Harris, and Sgt. Michael Magri.

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

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