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Rochester's Police Chief La'Ron Singletary, along with his entire command staff, resigned on Tuesday in the wake of the riots following the release of body cam footage showing the arrest of Daniel Prude in March, according to the Democrat and Chronicle.
Rochester's Mayor Lovely Warren confirmed Singletary's resignation in a press release, saying that he and Commander Morabito both announced their retirement. She tanks the Singletary and Morabito for their service, saying that she appreciated their work.
Warren felt it necessary to reassure Rochester residents that the community will continue to have a police force. She said "the Rochester Police Department will continue to serve and protect our residents and our neighborhoods." Singletary will remain at his post through the end of September.
Warren said that "We have spoken about maintaining our restraint regarding the ongoing protests and ask all involved to remain peaceful. While the timing and tenor of these resignations is difficult, we have faced tough times before. I truly believe that we will get through this."
The City Council and Warren will be meeting to figure out what comes next. For her part, Warren is "committed to instituting the reforms necessary in our police department." But she said that she does "not have the answers today."
Singletary refutes the claim that the seven officers involved in Prude's arrest did anything wrong. Those officers are currently suspended.
"As a man of integrity, I will not sit idly by while outside entities attempt to destroy my character," the Singletary said in a statement. "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."
Since Prude's death, protestors and violent rioters have repeatedly taken to the streets in Rochester, demanding something be done. They have terrorized patrons at outdoor restaurants, injured officers, and refused to disperse when asked.
Local Black Lives Matter activist Melanie Funchess noted that her "question is, with him retiring, will a whole story come out?"
Prude, a black man who was arrested by police in March after officers were called to the scene by his brother, died a week after the arrest. The arrest was called out by activists as a brutal one, as Prude was placed in a spit hood—to protect officers from COVID-19—and forced to the ground, then restrained there. After he vomited, officers removed the hood, found him unresponsive, administered CPR, and transported him to a hospital via ambulance.
The NY State Attorney General, Letitia James, said that a grand jury would be called to look into the death of Prude. This is standard procedure in New York, where the death of an unarmed individual in police custody is turned over to the state attorney general's office. That investigation is ongoing. The body cam footage was released by the family, who had put in a request to see that video.