Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren fired police chief La’Ron Singletary, suspended the city’s top lawyer and requested the Justice Department review the city’s police department amid growing criticism and protests over the asphyxiation death of Daniel Prude, reports the Wall Street Journal. Warren said she asked the Justice Department to look at all body-camera footage from Rochester officers that involved use-of-force arrests in the past three years. The decision to fire Singletary came after a management review of the response to the death of Prude. “This initial look has shown what so many have suspected, that we have a pervasive problem in the Rochester Police Department,” she said. Singletary announced his resignation last week. Mark Simmons, a deputy police chief, will serve as acting chief for 30 days starting Monday.
Warren said the corporation counsel Tim Curtin and communications director Justin Roj were suspended for 30 days without pay for failing to act in the circumstances surrounding Prude’s death. Prude, a Black man, died in a hospital seven days after a March 23 incident, in which officers restrained him and placed a spit hood over his head after responding to reports of a person acting erratically. Prude’s death, which was ruled a homicide, became public only after his family held a Sept. 2 news conference and provided police body-camera footage of the incident. Seven other officers involved in the death of Prude were suspended on Sept. 3. Prude’s death has prompted days of Black Lives Matter protests. During the initial episode, an officer on tiptoes leaned forward and used his full weight to push down on Prude’s head. Officer Mark Vaughn maintained this position for at least 68 seconds, the New York Times reports. Vaughn’s report said he “segmented his head.” A paramedic told investigators he saw the officer “tripoding” Prude’s head.