Rochester, NY – The Rochester Police Department’s (RPD) “entire command staff” announced on Tuesday that they will be retiring from the force, according to the city’s mayor.
RPD Chief La’Ron Singletary, a 20-year law enforcement veteran, and Deputy Chief Joseph Morabito, a 34-year veteran of the force, released statements announcing their retirements shortly before the Rochester City Council met to discuss the violent riots that have been taking place over the March death of Daniel Prude, the New York Post reported.
Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren warned the council that “the entire Rochester Police Department’s command staff has announced their retirement,” and said that “there may be a number of others who will decide to leave as well.”
Black Lives Matter activists have been demanding that Chief Singletary and Warren step down, claiming that they are responsible for allegedly trying to cover up the circumstances of Prude’s death, the New York Post reported.
Warren said she has no plans to resign, and said she did not ask Chief Singletary to step down.
“He didn’t in any way cover this up,” she said of the chief, according to ABC News.
“I do believe he is doing his best,” the mayor added, according to WHEC.
“The chief has felt that his career and integrity has been challenged,” Warren said. “He has dedicated 20 years to this city and feels that the events that have happened…could have been handled differently. But he didn’t in any way try to cover this up.”
— James (@aka_JamesJLINY) September 5, 2020
Chief Singletary sharply rebuked the allegations levied by activists in his retirement announcement.
“Today, after 20 years of dedicated service to the Rochester Police Department and the Rochester Community, I announce my retirement,” he wrote. “For the past two decades, I have served this community with honor, pride, and the highest integrity.”
“I will not sit idly by while outside entities attempt to destroy my character,” Chief Singletary said. “The mischaracterizations 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.”
The chief said that critics have attempted to “destroy” his “character and integrity,” but that the members of the RPD and the local community are well aware of his reputation and the type of leader he truly is.
The Black Lives Matter “protest” had been declared a riot in Rochester. pic.twitter.com/2Uef3t9RpK
— Ian Miles Cheong (@stillgray) September 5, 2020
“I would like to thank the men and women of the Rochester Police Department, as well as the Rochester Community for allowing me the honor of serving as your Chief and fulfilling a lifelong dream,” Chief Singletary concluded. “I look forward to continuing to serve our community in my next chapter.”
The chief will wrap up his law enforcement career on Sept. 29, according to WHEC.
RPD Deputy Chief Morabito, who has been at the helm of the department’s operations bureau, did not specify the reason for his retirement, the New York Post reported.
The deputy chief noted that serving as a law enforcement officer has been “one of the proudest achievements” of his life.
“I have often reflected on my time growing up in this City, and the many friends and neighbors who helped guide me and encouraged my decision to become an officer,” Deputy Chief Morabito said. “I have never regretted that decision, and the people who I have had the privilege of assisting throughout my service.”
Huge firework explodes in street. Rochester. pic.twitter.com/RrgIoDHFQY
— Riot Watch (@U_News_) September 5, 2020
RPD Commander Elena Correia and Commander Fabian Rivera also announced their retirements, WHEC reported.
Deputy Chief Mark Simmons and Commander Henry Favor will be stepping back to the rank of lieutenant, and Deputy Mark Mura has already returned to the rank of captain, according to the news outlet.
Warren said during the city council meeting on Tuesday that she has not had the opportunity to develop a plan to fill the vacant roles, and noted that she expects additional retirements and resignations may be on the horizon, WHEC reported.
“While the timing and tenor of these resignations is difficult, we have faced tough times before. I truly believe that we will get through this,” the mayor told reporters after the meeting. “I will be meeting with city council to chart a path forward.”
“I can assure this community that I am committed to instituting the reforms necessary in our police department and know that there are many questions, but this just occurred, and honestly, I do not have the answers today,” Warren added. “However, I will work diligently with my partners in government to provide those answers and share them with you in the coming days.”
Tear gas fills a street in Rochester. pic.twitter.com/EkrTNsnEZ8
— Riot Watch (@U_News_) September 5, 2020
Free The People Roc took credit for the RPD command staff’s retirements and praised themselves in a Facebook post on Tuesday.
“We accept Police Chief La’Ron Singletary’s resignation and the resignations of the entire RPD Command Team,” the group declared. “Our movement for justice is winning, and it’s because of this incredible community, showing up night after night.”
Several Facebook commenters noted that the RPB members did not resign – they retired.
“Let’s keep the pressure up until all those responsible for Daniel Prude’s murder and cover up—including Mayor Lovely Warren—have resigned, taken responsibility, and donated their pensions to the families they allowed to be harmed,” Free The People Roc’s post continued. “Together we have the ability to hold those in power accountable and bring an end to systemic police violence in our community.”
Portland tonight? Nope. Rochester, NY. @elaadeliahu is out covering the BLM-antifa mass gathering. It has been violent there in the past few days and that’s likely to continue. They crowdfund to buy riot gear. #AntifaRiots #BLM pic.twitter.com/4rAHQOrtiU
— Andy Ngô (@MrAndyNgo) September 7, 2020
The RPD came into contact with Prude on March 23, after receiving a report that he was smashing out storefront windows while claiming to be infected with COVID-19, The Epoch Times reported.
The 41-year-old was naked and covered in blood when officers found him.
The Monroe County Medical Examiner’s office concluded that Prude’s death was caused by acute PCP intoxication, excited delirium, and “complications of asphyxia in the setting of physical restraint,” according to court documents.
His manner of death was ruled as a homicide.
Rioters set fire to multiple businesses and smashed out various windows after video footage of Prude’s arrest was released last week, The Epoch Times reported.
The video showed officers as they took the naked suspect into custody, ABC News reported.
Although Prude was initially compliant, he soon began spitting and yelling, resulting in officers placing a spit hood over his head.
Officers ultimately pinned the flailing, yelling suspect to the ground while they waited for an ambulance to arrive, the video showed.
Prude eventually lost consciousness and seemed to vomit a clear liquid, the officers said in the video.
First responders performed chest compressions in the roadway before the suspect was transported to a local hospital.
“So, PCP can cause what we call excited delirium,” one of the EMTs explained to an officer at the scene. “I guarantee you that’s how he coded. It’s not your guys’ fault. I mean, you gotta keep yourselves safe.”
Prude was removed from life support seven days later.
Seven RPD members have been placed on paid administrative leave while the New York State Attorney General’s Office investigates the incident, ABC News reported.
The Prude family’s attorney, Antonio Romanucci, said that Chief Singletary’s retirement is “an important and necessary step to healing and meaningful reform in the community,” according to ABC News.
“Clearly, the conduct of the officers in Mr. Prude’s case was inhumane, and the subsequent cover-up was unacceptable,” Romanucci opined. “We look forward to securing justice for Mr. Prude and to having Rochester leaders do the hard work needed to address issues of systemic racism and training protocols in the police department.”