No wrongdoing by city employees in Daniel Prude’s death, Rochester Public Integrity Office says

Daniel Prude

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — The City of Rochester’s Office of Public Integrity has cleared all city employees of any potential wrongdoing in connection to the death of Daniel Prude.

In a 48-page report released Tuesday (full document below), the city’s Office of Public Integrity found no employee “violated city or departmental policies or ethical standards.”

This Office of Public Integrity investigation was independent from ongoing investigations by Rochester City Council and the New York State Attorney General’s Office into Daniel Prude’s death, as well as an internal Rochester Police Department investigation — all of which remain ongoing.

The report said it didn’t find evidence that any city employee was more aware or involved in the city’s response than has been previously stated publicly. The report said in part:

“After interviewing City employees, reviewing relevant City records, and examining related policies, procedures, and ethical standards, OPI found no evidence that any City employee within its jurisdiction, violated City or departmental policies or ethical standards with respect to their actions in response to the death of Mr. Prude. Based on this finding and the limited scope of the investigation. This matter is closed as “not provable.”

The report investigated the mayor, deputy mayor, communications director, corporation counsel, and other staff members. The report says OPI doesn’t have the authority to investigate RPD officers or city council members. The report says the investigators sought to interview former Rochester Police Chief La’Ron Singletary for the report, but only received a sworn statement from Singletary’s lawyer.

The report also found opportunities for city policies, procedures, and standards to be created or changed to improve operations. Some of the recommendations include a policy to improve reporting of critical events to the mayor, improvement of the FOIL system, and a review of access relating to police worn body camera video.

Joe Prude’s lawyer, Elliot Shields, said he’s more interested in seeing city council’s investigation when that is complete and made available.

“I don’t think there’s much new here. Unsurprisingly, the city says, ‘we investigated ourselves and we’ve cleared ourselves any wrongdoing.’ I think a closer look at the report though shows there’s systemic failures that happened it acknowledged that when the Daniel Prude incident happened it was not immediately reported up the chain,” Shields told News 8.

Free the People Roc responded to the report on Wednesday, saying in part, “Receiving the report from the Office of Public Integrity today was like salt in an open wound to a community that has yet to receive an honest and accountable response from the Mayor and her employees regarding the murder of Daniel Prude. The images of Prude’s arrest and subsequent murder are still fresh in our minds. The word homicide, written across his autopsy report, still haunts us. The facts of this case, plain for the entire world to see, have not been forgotten. Furious, we stand here once again to set the record straight, and assure you that we will not rest until Daniel Prude and Black people across the diaspora receive justice for his murder, and all Black lives lost to state sanctioned violence.”

Office of Public Integrity’s report

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 the encounter with police, which could explain his erratic behavior.

A federal civil lawsuit filed from the Prude family against the City of Rochester alleges there was an internal cover-up

Aside from former Police Chief La’Ron Singletary, who was fired by Mayor Lovely Warren in September, several other high-ranking members within the RPD’s command staff have also announced retirements, in a major leadership shake-up for the city’s police department.

MORE | Timeline of Daniel Prude’s encounter with Rochester Police on March 23

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.

Full statement from Free the People Roc

The latest stories regarding Daniel Prude

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

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