Rochester, NY, police chief announces retirement in wake of Daniel Prude’s death

ROCHESTER, N.Y. – Rochester Police Chief La’Ron Singletary announced his retirement from the police department Tuesday.

Singletary, 40, became chief in 2019 and has come under heavy scrutiny in the past week as news of the death of Daniel Prude became public. Many community activists have called for his resignation.

Singletary completed his 20th year of service with the department last month.

The news comes days after the death of Prude was disclosed to the public. Prude, a Black man, died of asphyxiation after police officers in Rochester pinned him to the ground while restraining him.

The incident occurred in March, two months before George Floyd’s very similar death in Minneapolis sparked nationwide protests. Yet it didn’t become public until this month.

Daniel Prude: A Black man pinned to the ground by NY police died two months before George Floyd

Deputy Chief Joseph Morabito, who oversees the department’s operations, also announced his retirement in an email. He is leaving the department after 34 years.

Deputy Chief Mark Simmons and Commander Henry Favor resigned their command positions and returned to their previously held rank of lieutenant.

Simmons, who oversaw the department’s administration bureau, briefly served as interim chief before Singletary took the reins. 

City Council Vice President WIllie Lightfoot said council members learned of the resignations in real time.

No successor was immediately announced.

Earlier in the week, Singletary said he wouldn’t step away from his post. And though Mayor Lovely Warren publicly displayed frustration over the lack of open communication with Singletary in the wake of Prude’s death, the mayor ultimately said she supported him.

“I do not believe there’s another person more dedicated to changing the culture of policing than La’Ron,” she said.

But during the briefing with the City Council on Tuesday, Warren broke the news. She said she did not ask for his resignation, adding, “He did not in any way try to cover this up.”

Warren said she was alerted to Singletary’s decision immediately before the briefing began.

‘I will not sit idly by while outside entities attempt to destroy my character’

“For the past two decades, I have served this community with honor, pride, and the highest integrity,” Singletary wrote in his retirement letter. 

Over the course of the past week, he had faced scrutiny after Warren accused him of not properly briefing her about Prude’s death. She said she became aware of the incident on Aug. 4. Prude’s initial encounter with police occurred at 3:16 a.m. on March 23.

“As a man of integrity, I will not sit idly by while outside entities attempt to destroy my character,” Singletary wrote. He did not identify the outside entities to which he was writing about.

“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.”

The Rochester native worked his way up through the ranks of the department. He joined the force in 1998 as a police cadet/intern through Monroe Community College, then became a patrol officer in 2000 upon completing his associate’s degree.

Contributing: Steve Orr, Rochester Democrat and Chronicle

Follow reporter Will Cleveland on Twitter: @willcleveland13.

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