ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — Rochester City Council held a briefing Thursday to respond to special investigator’s report on the death of Daniel Prude in which they called for the immediate termination of Corporation Counsel Tim Curtin.
That 84-page report, released earlier this month, said key city officials knowingly suppressed information from the public regarding Prude’s death.
“Did officials of City government suppress information about the arrest and death of Daniel Prude between March 23, 2020, when the arrest occurred, and September 2, 2020, when the Prude family publicly released body-worn camera footage of the incident? The straightforward answer is yes,” said Special investigator, attorney Andrew Celli. “The investigation revealed no explanation that fully accounts for the more than four-month delay between the death of an unarmed man at the hands of Rochester police, and public disclosure of the facts and circumstances under which the death occurred — other than a decision or series of decisions not to make such disclosure.“
The report said the ultimate decision to not disclose the death of Prude to the public was that of Mayor Lovely Warren. However he went on to say the responsibility for the delay wasn’t just hers, but also included former Rochester Police Chief La’Ron Singletary, Corporation Counsel Timothy Curtin, and Communications Director Justin Roj.
City Council members on the briefing Thursday called for the immediate termination of Curtin as a result of the report’s findings.
“We are firstly urging that the administration to immediately terminate Corporation Counsel Tim Curtin,” said Council President Loretta Scott. “We will be formally passing a resolution to that end very shortly.”
“The special investigation only made the obstruction and falsification more clear,” said Councilmember Mitch Gruber. “This behavior has severely damaged trust between citizens and their government.”
Gruber said Curtin’s pattern of obstructionism isn’t limited to the Prude investigation, but that he made aimed to limit the powers of the Police Accountability Board and City Council.
A response from the city reads:
“Mr. Curtin has already been seriously reprimanded and suspended without pay for a month. In addition, Mr. Celli has independently represented the City Council regarding the Police Accountability Board case for more than a year. Decisions related to this case are pending from the Appellate Division.”
Special investigator’s report
Check back with News 8 WROC as we will continue to update this developing story.
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. Police worn body camera footage of the incident showed officers restraining a handcuffed Prude, who was naked with a spit hood over his head, before he ultimately went unconscious.
The autopsy report from the Monroe County Medical Examiner’s Office ruled the death of Prude a homicide. The report said 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.
The Rochester police officers involved in the death of Daniel Prude will not face charges after a grand jury elected not to indict. The minutes of the grand jury testimony will be released with redactions after a judge approved the attorney general’s request to do so.
Former Rochester Police Chief La’Ron Singletary’s deposition in February was part of an independent investigation initiated by Rochester City Council continues to see if there was indeed a cover-up. That investigation is looking into City Hall, the Rochester Police Department and City Council itself.
Aside from Singletary, 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.
Protests sparked following the news of Prude’s death in the city of Rochester throughout the month of September. Some demonstrations saw violent clashes between protesters and police.