Former police chief says Rochester mayor pressured him to lie about his reaction to Daniel Prude’s death

Former Rochester, New York Police Chief La’Ron Singletary has accused the city’s mayor of pressuring him to lie about the chain of events that follow the death of Daniel Prude and fire him after he refused. Prude, a black man, died in March after Rochester police placed a spit sock over his head and pressed his face into the ground for more than three minutes while naked and handcuffed, according to camera images of the body and documents submitted by his family were submitted.

The circumstances surrounding Prude’s death were not made public until September, when the family released the bodycam footage and supporting evidence. The six-month delay raised questions as to why his death had not been previously announced to the public.

In a press conference the next day and in multiple interviews since then, Mayor Lovely Warren claimed that Singletary told her Prude died of a PCP overdose, said she had not seen the video footage of his arrest until August, and argued that Singletary was downplaying the circumstances surrounding Prude’s death.

“I discussed with Police Chief La’Ron Singletary how deeply disappointed I am in him personally and professionally because he has not fully and accurately informed me of what happened to Mr. Prude,” Warren said at the time. Singletary announced his resignation days later – but weeks before he was due to officially leave, he was fired.

Rochester Police Chief La'Ron Singletary speaks at a press conference in Rochester, New York
La’Ron Singletary as seen in Rochester, New York, on September 6, 2020.

Brendan McDermid / Reuters

But in his notice of claim, a precursor to a lawsuit, Singletary claims he was fired for refusing to lie to city council in support of Warren’s story that she had been misinformed about Prude’s death.

“On September 7, Mayor Warren asked me to withhold complete and truthful information from the City Council’s investigation into the Daniel Prude issue,” Singletary wrote. “Mayor Warren has instead asked me to provide false information and to omit material information in support of the mayor’s public account of her knowledge of the events in Daniel Prude’s case.”

Singletary said he was asked during that September 7 conversation to omit that he had told Lovely in April that Prude’s death was being labeled murder and that he had previously told her that agents had restrained Prude before his death. .

Singletary further claimed that when he announced his retirement on Sept. 8, he “ sent a clear direction to Mayor Warren that if I commented or testified publicly in the course of an investigation, including the City Council’s investigation into the matter from Daniel Prude, that my truthful testimony would inevitably reveal the mayor’s false public story. “

“For these and possibly other reasons, I claim and believe I was fired on September 14,” he added.

Singletary also claimed that Warren’s account of the months after Prude’s death “damaged my reputation for honesty, integrity and truthfulness.”

Beautiful Warren
Mayor of Rochester Lovely Warren seen September 3, 2020.

Michael M Santiago / Getty Images

“ The Mayor of the City of Rochester, and others acting on the Mayor’s behalf, have contested my performance as the City of Rochester Police Chief by making false statements and material omissions about my accomplishments and duties in the matter of Daniel Prude’s treatment in Rochester Police custody, his subsequent death, the internal investigations of the Rochester Police Department and my communications with Mayor Warren and other city officials, ”he said.

The city did not respond to CBS News’ request for comment.

The New York Attorney General is still investigating Prude’s death. A review by the city’s Office of Public Integrity on Tuesday found that no city worker “violated city or departmental policies or ethical standards” in handling the case, according to CBS affiliate WROC-TV.