- PHOTO BY GINO FANELLI
- Former Rochester Police Chief La'Ron Singletary.
During a news conference Monday, the mayor said she took the personnel actions after receiving a report from Deputy Mayor James Smith, whom she instructed to perform an “internal management review of the mental hygiene arrest and subsequent death of Daniel Prude to determine who knew what and when.”
The mayor contended that the report, which is more than 300 pages long, showed that Prude’s death wasn’t taken as seriously as it should have been by those at all levels of city government who were familiar with it. The public should have been informed of Prude’s death, and the circumstances of it, when it occurred in March, Warren said.
“It was seemingly viewed by all concerned as an unfortunate set of circumstances, which we all know was not the case,” Warren said.
Warren also acknowledged her own culpability in the handling of the matter, saying that she should have conducted a thorough review of “how we handled this matter and informed the public" after learning of the body camera video from the officers who arrested Prude on March 23.
Warren has said she learned of the footage on Aug. 4.
In addition to releasing the report, the mayor said she requested that the U.S. Attorney General’s Office investigate possible violations of Prude’s civil rights and bring charges if appropriate. She also asked the U.S. Department of Justice to thoroughly review the Rochester Police Department, including three years worth of body camera footage from arrests in which officers used force.
Lastly, she said she directed the city’s Office of Public Integrity to conduct an investigation to determine whether any city employees, herself included, violated city or departmental ethical policies in relation to the Prude case.
Meanwhile, City Council President Loretta Scott issued a statement saying that lawmakers had introduced legislation authorizing an independent investigation and that they only learned of the Warren administration's internal review and report through the mayor's news conference.
Scott said Council has already retained a lawyer, Andrew Celli, to help define the scope of the probe.
"City Council, but its very nature, must act as a check and balance to the administration," Scott said.
"While we appreciate the mayor's desire to have the city's Office of Public Integrity look into this matter, we understand that importance of having a review conducted by a separate branch of government with independent legal counsel," Scott said.
Singletary had already tendered his resignation prior to the mayor relieving him of his position on Monday, although he had planned to leave at the end of the month.
City Corporation Counsel Tim Curtin, who was suspended Monday, has been an attorney with the city of Rochester since 1994. He became corporation counsel, the city’s top lawyer, in January 2018.
Communications Director Justin Roj, who was suspended Monday, was hired in December 2018.
In a tweet Monday, he said he accepted his discipline.
“At no time before August 4 was I aware of what had happened to Mr. Prude and when I saw the video I immediately expressed my opinion within City Hall that the officers involved should no longer be on our streets,” read part of Roj’s statement.
He went on to say that he did not immediately inform the mayor or anyone in the Law Department about the circumstances of Prude's death after he learned of them in an email from Singletary because the chief's email suggested the mayor and the Law Department had already been informed.
"In hindsight, I agree that I should have questioned the chief further and/or taken the opportunity to discuss his email with the mayor," he wrote.
My statement regarding Mayor Warren's actions today: pic.twitter.com/0w0QUE1WOi— Justin Roj (@JustinRoj) September 14, 2020
Jeremy Moule is CITY's news editor. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.