ROCHESTER, NY – Several leaders in the Rochester Police Department, including Chief of Police La’Ron Singletary, have resigned in the wake of local protests and pushback from Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren, over the March death of Daniel Prude.
JUST IN: Rochester police chief, entire command staff retire suddenly following protests in death of Daniel Prude. https://t.co/H8Kvx517Ym
— ABC News (@ABC) September 8, 2020
On March 23, according to WXXI News, Daniel Prude had been on a “destructive tear,” smashing windows, and “ranting about having the coronavirus.”
When police encountered him, he was naked in freezing temperatures and “in distress.” He was initially compliant with police instructions and was handcuffed on the ground, then subsequently became “agitated.” A “spit sock” was placed over his head and he was restrained. At some point after that, he lost consciousness and stopped breathing.
Prude was reportedly resuscitated in the ambulance en route to the hospital but was placed on life support due to possible brain damage. Life support was discontinued by the family a week later.
According to WXXI, the autopsy report stated the cause of death was:
“complications of asphyxia in the setting of physical restraint due to excited delirium due to acute phencyclidine intoxication.”
The police union has said that the officers were “following their training.”
According to ABC7, an internal affairs investigation in April found:
“actions and conduct displayed when dealing with Prude appear to be appropriate and consistent with their training.”
The New York Attorney General has taken over the investigation.
When the Prude family and their attorney released police body cam footage and police reports on Sept. 2, the incident came under public scrutiny.
Nightly protests then ensued, with activists painting “MURDERERS” in front of the Public Safety Building, and “RESIGN,” presumably directed at Mayor Warren, in front of City Hall.
— Michael_Schwartz (@MSchwartzWHAM) September 9, 2020
On Thursday, Sept. 3, Mayor Warren announced the suspension of the seven officers involved in the incident with Prude.
Warren also stated:
“Mr. Daniel Prude was failed by our police department, our mental health system, our society and he was failed by me.”
At a press conference Sept. 3, Warren pointed a finger of blame squarely at Chief of Police La’Ron Singletary.
She stated that Chief Singletary told her that Prude died in custody of a drug overdose, which was “entirely different” from what she saw when viewing body cam footage.
“I have addressed with the police chief how deeply, and personally, and professionally disappointed I am in him for failing to fully and accurately inform me about what occurred with Mr. Prude.”
She went on to say:
“He knows he needs to do better to truly protect and serve our community.”
“The chief has been spoken to very firmly. He has been given directives very firmly. I expect for him to carry those directives out, and if he fails to do so, I will deal with him.”
Although "deeply, personally, and professionally" disappointed in RPD Chief Singletary over the handling of Daniel Prude's death, Mayor Warren says he is the person to lead the community through these "difficult times." pic.twitter.com/OjGeudSutB
— News 8 WROC (@News_8) September 7, 2020
Singletary, a 20-year veteran of the Rochester Police Department, apparently took exception to Warren’s characterization of him and his actions.
Along with six other leaders in Rochester PD, he announced his retirement on Sept. 8.
Singletary’s statement read, in part:
“As a man of integrity, I will not sit idly by while outside entities attempt to destroy my character. 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.”
Also retiring are Dep. Chief Joseph Morabito, a 34-year veteran, Commander Fabian Rivera, and Commander Elena Correia. Returning to their previous ranks are: Dep. Chief Mark Simmons, returning to the rank of lieutenant, Dep. Chief Mark Mura, returning to rank of captain, and Commander Henry Favor, returning to the rank of lieutenant.
After the resignations were announced, Rochester Police Locust Club criticized the Mayor’s office in a statement which read:
“The events that have unfolded today have taken us completely by surprise, as they have everyone else. What is clear is that the problems of leadership go directly to the Mayor’s office.
“Our priority now is on the dedicated men and woman, who despite unprecedented challenges, continue to do a very difficult job.
“Our members remain focused and committed to serving the citizens of this city, despite the lack of support and leadership that we are witnessing coming from our elected officials in City Hall.”
Gates police Chief and president of Monroe County Chiefs Association James Vanbrederode reportedly said in response to the resignations:
“Shocked but not surprised with all the disfunction (sic) going on now… huge loss for city and residents of Rochester.”
Gates Police Chief and President of Monroe County Chiefs Association James Vanbrederode on RPD Chief stepping down: “Shocked but not surprised with all the disfunction going on now…huge loss for city and residents of Rochester. He’s a constant professional” @News_8 pic.twitter.com/rQadyKCeYW
— Christian Garzone (@ccjgarzone) September 8, 2020
According to the Daily Wire, an anonymous officer confirmed to local radio host and journalist Bob Lonsberry that those who resigned did so because Mayor Warren “lied about the characters [of] good men” and “gutted the department in the name of politics.
A Rochester police officer rages at the mayor. pic.twitter.com/01aBl7cGLS
— Bob Lonsberry (@BobLonsberry) September 8, 2020
Lonsberry also opined on Twitter:
“This is how a police department takes a no-confidence vote in a mayor and City Council. The clown circus is on its own now.”
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For some perspective on the incident with Prude, here is our previous report:
This editorial is brought to you by a staff writer for Law Enforcement Today.
ROCHESTER – Rioters smashed Rochester all in the name of Daniel Prude. But new facts coming to light should entirely clear the police.
Here’s the deal.
On March 22, Daniel Prude was on a train en route to Rochester, NY.
When the train got to Buffalo, he was forcibly removed due to erratic behavior and smoking on the train.
Prude’s brother, Joe Prude, drove out from Rochester to pick him up, and brought him back to Rochester. Hours later, Daniel Prude was dead.
A crowd of approximately 5,000 rioters trashed downtown Rochester Friday night because, they say, police killed Prude.
According to Prude’s brother Joe, Prude was on the drug PCP and hallucinating earlier in the day.
That is, before he ever encountered police, Daniel Prude had voluntarily engaged in dangerous, potentially life-threatening behavior. After he arrived at Joe’s home, he developed the delusion that Joe and his wife were trying to kill him.
After first trying to hide under a couch, Prude threw himself headfirst down a flight of 21 stairs. That act was also potentially life-threatening, and Prude did it to himself.
According to Joe, Prude made several suicidal statements, as if to explain his self-destructive behavior.
Prude then ran from the house without shoes, gloves, or a jacket. It was snowing outside. Running into inclement, cold weather without proper clothing is life-threatening behavior and Prude did it voluntarily. It was at this point that Joe called police.
After arriving on the scene, police talk with Joe about Prude. As they talk, they receive a call about an “unclothed male with blood on him.” Joe identifies the call as describing his brother.
Bodycam footage released by Rochester police show police approaching Prude, who is now totally naked, standing in the middle of a dark wet street as snow falls around him.
This is dangerous also.
Now, he is no longer wearing the tank top and long johns his brother saw him wearing when he left the house. Prude is now even more exposed to cold, inclement weather than he was before, and has been for some time.
They observe a nearby broken window and blood on Purdue’s wrist, surmising that he broke the window manually and cut himself in the process.
At this point, it is apparent that Prude has already done the following dangerous things:
1) ingested PCP
3) thrown himself head-first down a flight of stairs
4) removed his clothing in slightly below freezing weather while it was snowing.
On their own, any one of those four things could have led to his death, and Purdue did all of them before police arrive. If Purdue had broken the window manually, he could have cut himself severely enough to die, particularly given that the bleeding wound seen on his wrist appears to intersect a major artery.
Prude followed police instructions to get on the ground and be handcuffed. This, according to various news sources, proves that Prude not only was compliant, but that any force exercised against him during his arrest was unreasonable.
The bodycam footage shows Prude spitting, and earlier we heard that he had the covid-19 virus. An officer then places a spit hood over his head, to prevent him from spitting on, and potentially infecting, officers or paramedics.
According to Park City, Utah police chief Wade Carpenter, spit hoods are designed out of a mesh that is designed to be breathable. They are held in place by an elastic around the neck that can easily be broken. Prude can be clearly heard through the mesh as he continues to talk to officers.
He requested that he be given a gun because “I need it”.
About two minutes later, Prude vomits what looks like water. Officers then notice he has stopped breathing. Paramedics have by then arrived.
One of them says that Prude’s current distress is due to the PCP and not officer actions. He is taken to the hospital where he was pronounced brain dead.
He was kept on life support for a week after that, then declared dead.
One thing that is obvious throughout is that at no time did any officer say or do anything that was overtly racist, nor did they behave as if they intended injury.
Their goal was to look into a report of what they learned was a disturbed and suicidal individual, suffering from delusions, who was high on drugs, and had already committed several acts of self-harm.
By some measures, it is a miracle he hadn’t managed to kill himself before police arrived.
When police arrived, they subdued and handcuffed the suspect, which prevented him from doing anything else to harm himself. When he started asking for their guns and spitting, after telling them he had covid-19, they used a spit hood for the purpose it was designed, and put it over Prude’s head.
Protesters and news media, not to mention Prude’s family, now claim that Prude’s death five months ago was the fault of the police.
“They put a bag over his head, and they squeezed the air out of him,” said Nicolette Ward, a lawyer for one of Prude’s daughters.
No mention is made of all the things Prude did before police found him naked on the snowy streets of Rochester, blood dripping from his body due to self-inflicted wounds.
Chief Carpenter points out that the spit hood “wouldn’t put any pressure on the carotid arteries in the neck. It wouldn’t restrict blood flow to the brain and certainly wouldn’t block the mouth or nose.” He added that officers in Park City have used the devices for years without issues.
And now we have riots in Rochester, supposedly because Prude was murdered by racist police.
It is amazing how much violence can be caused by a simple misunderstanding, particularly when the news media is there to amplify the mistake, to edit out the facts, and to emphasize everything that could possibly be construed negatively toward the police.
The truth is that the police did as they were trained to do, but Prude’s self-destructive acts prior to the encounter put them in an impossible situation. How do they restrain him for paramedics without exposing themselves or the paramedics to covid-19? The reason the hood was put on his head is that Prude forced them to do it by his own actions.
And now there are more crimes to deal with because the proxy army of the press, the mobs that descended on Rochester, have committed acts of vandalism, looting, arson, and assault.
Supposedly, idle hands do the devil’s work. In this case, and others around the nation, many people with keyboards have busily done their bit to encourage anarchy and obscure the truth by dishonestly portraying the police as racists who must be stopped.
What would have happened if the police hadn’t answered the call? Would Prude have survived the night on his own?
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