Rochester police command staff resigns, retires in wake of Prude death

The entire command staff of the Rochester, New York, Police Department has resigned or retired as outrage continues over the death of a Black man, Daniel Prude, while in police custody.

Police Chief La’Ron Singletary and Deputy Chief Joseph Morabito announced they are retiring. Singletary said he has been serving the community for 20 years, while Morabito cited 34 years of service.

Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren also announced the rest of the department’s command staff has resigned.

Prude was arrested by police as he ran naked through the city. He died March 30 after he was taken off life support, seven days after his encounter with police. Last week, his family cited audio and video records showing his arrest by police, who put a spit hood over his head, then pressed his face into the pavement for two minutes.

ExploreWhat is a spit hood?

The videos show Prude, who had taken off his clothes, complying when police ask him to get on the ground and put his hands behind his back. Prude is agitated and shouting as he sits on the pavement in handcuffs for a few moments as a light snow falls.

Then, they put a white “spit hood” over his head, a device intended to protect officers from a detainee’s saliva. At the time, New York was in the early days of the coronavirus pandemic.

Later, the officers remove the hood and his handcuffs and medics can then be seen performing CPR before he’s loaded into an ambulance.

A medical examiner concluded that Prude’s death was a homicide caused by “complications of asphyxia in the setting of physical restraint.” The report lists excited delirium and acute intoxication by phencyclidine, or PCP, as contributing factors.

“As a man of integrity, I will not sit idly by while outside entities attempt to destroy my character,” Singletary said in a statement. "The events over the past week are an attempt to destroy my character and integrity. The members of the Rochester Police Department and the Greater Rochester Community know my reputation and know what I stand for.

“The mischaracterization and the politicization of the actions that I took after being informed of Mr. Prude’s death is not based on facts, and is not what I stand for.”

Seven Rochester police officers have been suspended with pay in connection to the incident.