The entire command staff of the Rochester Police Department is resigning after a week of protests over the murder of Daniel Prude, an unarmed Black man whose murder at the hands of officers was captured on video.
Protesters have been marching nightly, demanding the resignation of Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren and Police Chief La’Ron Singletary over the March death of Prude, who was naked in the street when officers restrained him by pinning his face to the ground for two minutes after covering it with a “spit mask.” He was taken off life support seven days later and the medical examiner ruled the death a homicide by asphyxiation.
Protesters are accusing the Rochester government of a cover-up because the details of Prude’s death were not released for five months.
Just two days ago, Singletary said he had no plans to resign. He and Warren were supposed to attend a virtual city council meeting Tuesday. Instead, Warren appeared alone and announced that the entire Rochester police command staff was retiring, including Singletary, at least two deputy chiefs, and possibly “a number of others,” Warren said.
The mayor added that Singletary was not asked to give his resignation.
“The chief has felt that his career and his integrity has been challenged,” said Warren. “(He) feels that the events that have happened … could have been handled differently. But he didn’t in any way try to cover this up.”
Protest group Free the People Roc posted on Facebook that it accepts the resignations.
“Our movement for justice is winning, and it’s because of this incredible community, showing up night after night,” the group said. “Let’s keep the pressure up until all those responsible for Daniel Prude’s murder and cover up — including Mayor Lovely Warren — have resigned, taken responsibility, and donated their pensions to the families they allowed to be harmed.”
The mayor appeared to deflect blame onto Singletary last week by saying she was not told the details of Prude’s death until August. But she also praised Singletary as a dedicated public servant.
Protesters clashed with police in the streets of Rochester when nightly marches started last week. In recent days, the events have been reported as peaceful, in part due to a wall of elders coming out to form a human barrier between protesters and police. Despite this, President Trump tweeted Monday about Rochester having a bad night.
The seven officers involved in Prude’s death have been suspended without pay, and the New York Attorney General's Office has opened an investigation. But protesters have called for the officers to be fired and want police to be barred from responding to mental health calls. They also want the Rochester Police Department to be defunded and disbanded.