Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren on Monday fired Police Chief Le’Ron Singletary over his department’s handling of the death of Daniel Prude — less than a week after the top cop announced his intention to retire at month’s end.
“This initial look has shown what so many have suspected, that we have a pervasive problem in the Rochester Police Department,” said Warren in a press briefing announcing the shake-up. “One that views everything through the eyes of the badge and not the citizens we serve.
“It shows that Mr. Prude’s death was not taken as seriously as it should have been by those who reviewed the case throughout city government at every level.”
Prude, 41, was experiencing a mental-health episode when cops found him naked on a Rochester street in March.
Responding cops handcuffed Prude, placed a mesh “spit hood” over his head and pushed his face into the ground — all while cracking jokes about the situation, video of the incident shows.
The father of five eventually stopped breathing, became brain-dead and died in a hospital one week later.
The incident only recently gained national prominence with the release of new video of the run-in, sparking a wave of protests.
Warren earlier this month announced a series of reforms, and Singletary — along with the rest of the Rochester Police Department’s command staff — opted to retire.
Singletary said that he would stay on through the end of September, but Warren was evidently uninterested in waiting.
On Monday, she also suspended the city’s top lawyer and communications director for 30 days without pay.
“I have apologized to the Prude family and this community for the failures that happened along the way, including my own,” Warren said. “As mayor, I own these failures.”