The Mayor of Rochester, New York, has called for a federal investigation into the death of Daniel Prude, a black man who was choked to death by police on the street nearly six months ago.
Mayor Lovely Warren announced her request for a federal investigation Monday, saying she has released Rochester Police Chief La’Ron Singletary effective September 21, according to News8.
Singletary, along with several other members of the police department, announced his resignation last week. His last day was to be September 29th.
Warren announced Monday that city communications director Justin Roj and his city business lawyer Tim Curtin have been suspended for 30 days without pay.
The von Prude family filed a civil lawsuit against the city, alleging that their leaders and police officers had covered up the details of his death.
Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren (left) on Monday called for a federal investigation into the death of Daniel Prude (right), who was smothered in the street by police officers in March
Warren also ordered Police Chief La’Ron Singletary (pictured) to resign immediately
“I have directed the deputy mayor to initiate an internal management review of the city’s handling of the mental health arrest and subsequent death of Daniel Prude,” Warren told reporters at a news conference.
“In all fairness, the public should have been made aware of Mr Prude’s death and the circumstances that led to his death in March, and after seeing the video I should have made a formal review.”
The Mayor continued, “That first look showed that we have a pervasive problem in the Rochester Police Department that looks at everything through the eyes of the Badge, not the citizens we serve.
“I apologized to the Prude family and this community for the mistakes that happened along the way, including my own as mayor. Never again can we allow a man or woman to die unnecessarily in police custody. ‘
Warren then announced that she has asked the US Attorney General to conduct an investigation into “possible violations of Mr. Prude’s civil rights.”
“This tragic loss of life has shown that we have systematic errors,” she said.
“We have to acknowledge these mistakes and set up these forms that create transparency. We will regroup in a couple of days when I answer all of the questions you have given about the documents you receive today. ‘
Prude was naked and handcuffed when the “spit hood” was placed over his head when he was arrested on March 23 – after his brother called 911 to seek help for his erratic behavior
Paramedics came when Prude was wrestled to the ground and was still wearing the “spit hood”.
The New York Attorney General opened its own investigation into Prude’s death after the video was released.
The officers responded to an emergency call from his brother and asked for help with Prude’s erratic behavior on March 23.
Prude, who had mental health problems, was naked at the time of his arrest and was handcuffed and nailed to the sidewalk with a “spit hood” over his head when officers held him for two minutes before he passed out.
A week after his arrest on March 30th, he was released on life support.
The Monroe County Medical Examiner’s Office autopsy report found that Prude’s death was a murder caused in part by “complications of asphyxiation with restraint.”
The autopsy also showed that Prude had a small amount of PCP in his system at the time of his death, which could explain his erratic behavior.
Seven Rochester police officers have been suspended for payment in connection with the case: Mark Vaughn, Troy Taladay, Paul Ricotta, Francisco Santiago, Andrew Specksgoor, Josiah Harris and Michael Magri.
Roj, the city’s communications director, issued a statement shortly after Warren’s press conference Monday in response to his suspension without pay.
“I accept the discipline Mayor Warren put in place today,” he said. “Before August 4th, I never knew what had happened to Mr. Prude, and when I saw the video, I immediately expressed my opinion in the town hall that the officials involved should no longer be on our streets.
“I personally believe that Mr. Prude would still be alive today if the responding officials recognized his humanity and acted with compassion and restraint.”
Roj went on to say that he did not publicly disclose the existence of the video after seeing it because he was informed that an investigation was ongoing and did not want to obstruct it.
“In retrospect, I agree that I should continue to question the boss and / or take the opportunity to discuss his email with the mayor,” he said.
Prude’s family held a vigil in Rochester in his honor on September 10 (pictured)