Prude Death Investigation

Rochester police union on RPD shake-up: ‘Problems of leadership go directly to the mayor’s office’

Daniel Prude

Rochester Police Locust Club president Mike Mazzeo holds a press conference to discuss the death of Daniel Prude in Rochester, New York on Friday September 4, 2020. (News 8 WROC file photo)

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — The Rochester Police Locust Club released a statement Tuesday regarding the retirement of Chief La’Ron Singletary, and other command staff members, which came less than one week after news of Daniel Prude’s death first became public.

The statement from the police union said:

“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.”

MORE | Daniel Prude timeline: From March encounter with police to current protests in Rochester

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.

Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren held a 90-second press conference at City Hall Tuesday to address the RPD shake-up, and did not take questions from media.

“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,” the mayor said. “I know that there are many questions, but this just occurred and honestly I do not have all the answers today”

MORE | GALLERY: Daniel Prude protest photos in Rochester

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.

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

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