ROCHESTER, N.Y. – Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren fired the western New York city’s police chief Monday and suspended two other employees as criticism mounts surrounding the city’s handling of the suffocation death of resident Daniel Prude while in police custody.
Warren said during a news conference that Monday was Chief of Police La’Ron Singletary’s last day with the department, even though he announced Sept. 8 his intentions to retire at the end of the month.
Warren also said that both communications director Justin Roj and the city’s top lawyer, Tim Curtin, have been suspended for 30 days without pay, CBS News reported.
In addition, Warren formally requested federal investigations into both Prude’s death and the Rochester Police Department, USA Today reported.
“We have a pervasive problem in the Rochester Police Department, one that views everything through the eyes of the badge,” Warren said during the news conference, calling for a “change” in the city’s “culture of policing.”
Prude died in March from injuries sustained while being restrained by police, but the death was not made public until his family held a Sept. 2 news conference and released video of the incident obtained from body cameras worn by police.
According to USA Today, Warren also said the city’s Office of Public Integrity would “determine if any employees — including herself — violated city or departmental policies or ethical standards.” An outside agency will also be retained to assess police training manuals, general orders and regulations, as well as the city’s open records process.
“Frankly, the public should have been informed of Mr. Prude’s death and the circumstances that led to his death in March,” Warren said, acknowledging that she should have initiated the action after viewing the video in August.
Warren also called for a federal review of the Prude investigation and asked the U.S. Attorney’s Office to look into any violations of Prude’s civil rights, CBS News reported.
“This tragic loss of life has shown that we have systematic failures,” she said. “We have to acknowledge these failures and put in place these forms that create transparency.”
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