Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren fired the police chief and suspended her top lawyer and communications director Monday in the continuing upheaval over the suffocation death of Daniel Prude.
Chief Le’Ron Singletary announced his retirement last week as part of a major shakeup of the city’s police leadership but said he would stay on through the end of the month.
Instead, Warren said at a news conference that she had permanently relieved him while suspending Corporation Counsel Tim Curtin and Communications Director Justin Roj without pay for 30 days.
“This initial look has shown what so many have suspected, that we have a pervasive problem in the Rochester Police Department,” Warren said.
“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 reviewd the case throughout city government at every level.”
Officers found Prude running naked down the street in March, handcuffed him and put a hood over his head to stop him from spitting, then held him down for about two minutes until he stopped breathing. He died a week later after he was taken off life support.
His death has sparked nearly two weeks of nightly protests after his relatives released police body camera video and written reports they obtained through a public records request.
Roj said he accepted the suspension, but claimed he was not aware of what happened to Prude until Aug. 4. He said Singletary told him in an email of an ongoing criminal investigation and that the mayor was already informed.
“In hindsight, I agree I should have questioned the Chief further and/or taken the opportunity to discuss his email with the Mayor,” Roj said in a statement posted on Twitter.
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