ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — At a press conference from Rochester City Hall Thursday, Mayor Lovely Warren said Police Chief La’Ron Singletary told her that Daniel Prude died from an apparent drug overdose back in March,
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 with new body camera footage from the scene — 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
That autopsy report from the Monroe County Medical Examiner’s Office ruled the death of Prude a homicide, a document that was filed one day after Prude died.
That autopsy 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.
“When our officers responded on March 23, I was informed that day by Chief Singletary that Mr. Prude had an apparent drug overdose while in custody,” Mayor Warren said. “Chief Singletary never informed me of the actions of his officers to forcible restrain Mr. Prude. I only learned of those officer’s actions on August 4 when corporation counsel reviewed the video while fulfilling the FOIL request from Mr. Prude’s attorney. At no time, prior to August 4, did Chief Singletary, or anyone, make me aware or show me the video of the actions of the RPD officers involved in Mr. Prude’s death.”
At the press conference, the mayor said she was informed of the incident on March 23. She said she was told Prude suffered an apparent overdose, was taken to a hospital, that he might die, and the incident could be investigated because he was in police custody.
Mayor Warren said she was notified the following week, March 30, when Prude passed away, and the incident was being investigated. The Medical Examiner’s autopsy report was filed the following day. The mayor said she was then not informed of anything regarding Mr. Prude, the Attorney General investigation, or anything from the district attorney’s office until August 4 when corporation counsel told her she needed to see the body came video.
Mayor Warren said the chief has since been reprimanded for his actions. At this time it is not known what punishment, if any, the chief faces.
Additionally, Mayor Warren announced that seven Rochester police officers involved the encounter with Prude have been suspended, with pay.
In a statement Thursday Gov. Andrew Cuomo said he too is calling for answers, and an expeditious investigation into the death of Daniel Prude:
“Last night, I watched the video of Daniel Prude’s death in Rochester. What I saw was deeply disturbing and I demand answers.
“Under Executive Order 147, which I signed in 2015 after the death of Eric Garner, the Attorney General is investigating and I have full faith that she will complete a thorough review of the facts, get to the bottom of what happened and ensure that justice is served.
“For the sake of Mr. Prude’s family and the greater Rochester community I am calling for this case to be concluded as expeditiously as possible. For that to occur we need the full and timely cooperation of the Rochester Police Department and I trust it will fully comply.”
Meanwhile, New York State Letitia James’ office continues to investigate the matter. In a statement Thursday, A.G. James said:
“As my office continues our investigation into the death of Daniel Prude, it is important for the Rochester community to know that we are working diligently to ensure a swift but thorough investigation. At this time, we have not asked the city of Rochester nor the Rochester Police Department (RPD) to refrain from launching an internal investigation. In fact, we encourage both Rochester and the RPD to proceed with an internal review simultaneous to our investigation. The Prude family and the greater Rochester community deserve answers, and we will continue to work around the clock to provide them.”
Check back with News 8 WROC as we will continue to update this developing story.