Mayor Lovely Warren has fired Rochester Police Chief La’Ron Singletary, effective immediately, and suspended her top communications aide and the city’s attorney for 30 days without pay.
During a news conference Monday, the mayor said she took the personnel actions after receiving a report from Deputy Mayor James Smith, whom she instructed to perform an “internal management review of the mental hygiene arrest and subsequent death of Daniel Prude to determine who knew what and when.”
The mayor contended that the report, which is more than 300 pages long, showed that Daniel Prude’s death wasn’t taken as seriously as it should have been by those at all levels of city government who were familiar with it. The public should have been informed of Prude’s death, and the circumstances of it, when it occurred in March, Warren said.
“It was seemingly viewed by all concerned as an unfortunate set of circumstances, which we all know was not the case,” Warren said Monday.
Warren added that after learning of the body camera video from the officers conducting the mental health arrest on Prude, she should have conducted a thorough review of “how we handled this matter and informed the public.”
On Monday, Warren also announced that she’s requested that the U.S. Attorney General’s Office investigate possible violations of Prude’s civil rights and bring charges if they are supported. She also asked the U.S. Department of Justice to thoroughly review the Rochester Police Department, including three years' worth of body camera footage from arrests where officers used force.
Warren also stated that she’s directed the city’s Office of Public Integrity to conduct an investigation to determine whether any city employees, herself included, violated city or departmental ethical policies in relation to the Prude case.
Singletary had already tendered his resignation prior to his sacking Monday. When he announced his resignation last Tuesday, he planned to leave at the end of the month. Mark Simmons was named Acting Chief for the next 30 days.
City Corporation Counsel Tim Curtin, who was suspended Monday, has been an attorney with the city of Rochester since 1994. He became corporation counsel, the city’s top lawyer, in January 2018.
Communications Director Justin Roj, who was suspended Monday, was hired in December 2018. In a tweet Monday, he said he accepted the disciplinary action from the mayor.
“At no time before August 4 was I aware of what had happened to Mr. Prude and when I saw the video I immediately expressed my opinion within City Hall that the officers involved should no longer be on our streets,” read part of Roj’s statement.
My statement regarding Mayor Warren's actions today: pic.twitter.com/0w0QUE1WOi
— Justin Roj (@JustinRoj) September 14, 2020
You can follow links to the full report, timeline and Deputy Mayor's report on the City of Rochester's website.
Jeremy Moule is CITY's news editor. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.