Rochester’s police chief and deputy chief resigned Tuesday amid outrage over the death of Daniel Prude, a Black man with mental health issues who died after being put in a “spit hood” and restrained by officers in March.
Rochester Police Chief La’Ron Singletary announced he would be retiring Tuesday after 20 years on the police force, according to a media release from the department. Singletary said the events of 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,” Singletary’s resignation said. “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.”
Deputy Police Chief Joseph Morabito also announced his retirement on Tuesday.
Relatives of Prude, 41, released police videos of the March 23 encounter on Wednesday and Thursday and claimed that they show that officers used excessive force. Prude died of “complications of asphyxia in the setting of physical restraint,” with the drug PCP listed as a contributing factor, according to an autopsy report from Monroe County Medical Examiner Nadia Granger.
Prude’s brother, Joe Prude, said he had mental health and drug problems and had been acting out on March 22. Joe Prude called 911 that day, and Daniel Prude was hospitalized for about three hours for a mental health check.
The videos show when officers found Prude naked in the middle of a street, shortly after 3 a.m. March 23. Prude complied with orders to get on the ground face down and put his hands behind his back, the video shows.
While handcuffed, Prude seemed to be speaking in a nonsensical manner, at one point asking officers for a gun, according to the videos. Police said the officers placed a spit hood on Prude, 41, because he said he had COVID-19.
Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren announced Thursday that seven officers had been suspended, and New York Attorney General Letitia James said Saturday that she has empowered a state grand jury to investigate Prude’s death.