ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — The Rochester City Council held a virtual briefing with Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren on Wednesday afternoon, in which she apologized for not informing the council about the death of Daniel Prude.
The briefings were originally scheduled to begin on Tuesday, but was adjourned due to the announcement of Rochester Police Chief La’Ron Singletary retiring at the conclusion of this month.
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. Deputy Chief Mark Mura will return to the previously held position of captain.
MORE | Mayor Lovely Warren on future of Rochester Police Department: ‘I do not have all the answers today’
“I want to take a moment to apologize to City Council, because you were not fully briefed on this matter, and at any point in time before the video came out,” Mayor Warren said.
After the apology, City Council had the change to ask the mayor questions about the changes in the RPD command staff. One question, the definition of an unlawful assembly. According to RPD, an unlawful assembly is declared when there is a risk to the public — including fireworks, throwing hard objects or arson. The decision is to be made by the RPD command post.
City Council then asked RPD to drop the unlawful assembly charges against protesters, but RPD officials said the arrests were lawful and that that request would have to be brought to the district attorney’s office.
Rochester City Council President Loretta Scott asked the mayor whether she has any control of asking the police officers to cover the names on their badges. Warren responded by saying the police chief is the person who gives the general orders, but she said she will look into what the chain of command is to see if she is able to override that.
Councilmember Mitch Gruber asked about the peaceful protests the past few nights and whether that peace will be continued on RPD’s end. “What would be the line in the sand for pepper guns or tear gas to be deployed again?” Gruber asked.
“That would be a question for RPD,” the mayor responded. “I am confident that they are still fulfilling the day to day operations of the police department. Yesterday we spoke, today we texted, he is committed to answering any other questions you may have,” she added.
Councilmembers said they want to ask the police chief some of these questions directly during a briefing. Warren ended the meeting by saying she will check with Chief Singletary to see if he’s available to join them in a briefing on Thursday.
Wednesday, while on WXXI, Scott says on August 20, Warren told her that there had been a death in police custody, but it was a drug overdose. The mayor says she first saw the tape on August 4.
Statement from the City:
Since the City of Rochester implemented body-worn cameras for its officers in 2016, City Councilmembers have requested and reviewed video of physical altercations involving our officers on numerous occasions. At no time, after being briefed in full by the Mayor, did President Scott request to see the video of Mr. Prude’s death.
City council released the following statement on Monday about the briefings:
“Starting tomorrow, Tuesday, September 8, 2020 the Rochester City Council will have a regular public briefing with the Mayor and the Police Chief. During this heightened state in our community, the Council is calling for briefings concerning any interactions between protesters and police officers as well as an opportunity to ask questions and express any concerns. In the spirit of transparency, the briefings will be held using video conferencing and will be streamed live on the Council’s YouTube Channel and shared on the Council’s Facebook Page.
City Council briefing
This is a developing story. News 8 WROC will provide updates as they become available.
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