Rochester, N.Y. Police Chief La’Ron Singletary has resigned after a week of sustained protests over the March extrajudicial killing of Daniel Prude.
Singletary, who is Black, had received calls for his resignation after Prude’s family released body camera footage of his death last week. Prude was detained by police on March 22 after his brother called for a wellness check for his sibling, who had mental health issues. Responding to the call, Rochester police placed a spit hood over the distressed and unarmed man, pinning him to the ground in a chain of events that caused Prude to lose consciousness. He died in a hospital a week after the encounter.
But Singletary doesn’t appear to be bowing to the will of protesters, who have accused the police department and city government of covering up Prude’s death (there have also been calls for Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren to step down). According to a resignation letter obtained by WHAM-TV, Singletary’s quitting the job appears to be a protest in and of its own:
As a man of integrity, I will not sit idly by while outside entities attempt to destroy my character. The events over the past week are an attempt to destroy my character and integrity. The members of the Rochester Police Department and the Greater Rochester Community know my reputation and know what I stand for. The mischaracterization and the politicization of the actions that I took after being informed of Mr. Prude’s death is not based on facts, and is not what I stand for.
According to reporters who were watching the press conference, including BuzzFeed’s Paul McLeod, Rochester’s entire command staff has also stepped down.
The resignations also come just three days after New York State Attorney General Letitia James announced a grand jury would review Prude’s case, reports the New York Times. There has also been disagreement about how much was communicated between Singletary and Mayor Warren in the immediate aftermath of Prude’s killing.
According to WHAM, Warren said she didn’t know the full details of Prude’s death, and that she had been told he died of a drug overdose. During a news conference last week, Warren said it wasn’t until August 4 that she saw footage of police arresting Prude. Singletary said he called Warren on March 23 to alert her of the incident, and that a criminal and internal investigation was underway.
Since Prude’s death has come to light, Warren has ordered that video of any in-custody death be released within 24 hours. On Tuesday, Mayor Warren said the search has begun to find an interim police chief. It is unclear who will be in charge during tonight’s scheduled protests.