The city of Rochester shocked the national news media when seven Rochester Police Department (RPD) leaders, including Chief of Police La’Ron Singletary, resigned on Tuesday.
Though some nationally have chalked up the mass resignations as a win for the left-wing activists protesting the Daniel Prude case, local reporting and reactions from officers and residents on the ground indicate a loss in confidence in Democrat Mayor Lovely Warren, who thoroughly blamed the alleged mishandling of the Daniel Prude case on Mr. Singletary.
“I have addressed with the police chief how deeply, and personally, and professionally disappointed I am in him for failing to fully and accurately inform me about what occurred with Mr. Prude,” Warren said during a presser on September 3. “He knows he needs to do better to truly protect and serve our community.”
The mayor claimed the chief told her Prude “was experiencing and ultimately died from a drug overdose in police custody,” which is allegedly “entirely different” than what she “witnessed” via body camera footage. “I had no idea Mr. Prude died in the manner which he did,” the Democrat said.
An autopsy report from the Monroe County Medical Examiner’s Office, according to WXXI News, listed Prude’s cause of death as “’complications of asphyxia in the setting of physical restraint due to excited delirium due to acute phencyclidine intoxication,’ an indication that Prude might have been high on PCP.”
The news outlet highlighted that police reports indicate Prude had apparently “gone on a destructive tear,” “smashing out the windows of several storefronts, and ranting about having the coronavirus” before police came in contact with him.
Although "deeply, personally, and professionally" disappointed in RPD Chief Singletary over the handling of Daniel Prude's death, Mayor Warren says he is the person to lead the community through these "difficult times." pic.twitter.com/OjGeudSutB
— News 8 WROC (@News_8) September 7, 2020
Reacting to the news of Singletary’s resignation, Gates Police Chief and President of Monroe County Chiefs Association James Vanbrederode told local news reporter Christian Garzone: “Shocked but not surprised with all the [dysfunction] going on now…huge loss for city and residents of Rochester. He’s a constant professional.”
Gates Police Chief and President of Monroe County Chiefs Association James Vanbrederode on RPD Chief stepping down: “Shocked but not surprised with all the disfunction going on now…huge loss for city and residents of Rochester. He’s a constant professional” @News_8 pic.twitter.com/rQadyKCeYW
— Christian Garzone (@ccjgarzone) September 8, 2020
The Rochester Police Locust Club issued a statement slamming the mayor’s lack of leadership.
“The events that have unfolded today have taken us completely by surprise, as they have everyone else. What is clear is that the problems of leadership go directly to the Mayor’s office,” the statement said, according to Rochester First. “Our priority now is on the dedicated men and [women], who despite unprecedented challenges, continue to do a very difficult job. Our members remain focused and committed to serving the citizens of this city, despite the lack of support and leadership that we are witnessing coming from our elected officials in City Hall.”
Local radio host and journalist Bob Lonsberry linked the resignations to the department’s loss of confidence in the mayor and city council.
“This is how a police department takes a no-confidence vote in a mayor and City Council,” Mr. Lonsberry said. “The clown circus is on its own now. You better double up on the elders tonight.” (City elders have tried to calm tensions during the at-times violent protesting in the city.)
This is how a police department takes a no-confidence vote in a mayor and City Council. The clown circus is on its own now. You better double up on the elders tonight.
— Bob Lonsberry (@BobLonsberry) September 8, 2020
Lonsberry was even more explicit in an op-ed he wrote Tuesday at WHAM 1180. “This wasn’t about the protests – this was a protest,” he argued. “Of a lying mayor, and a dumb-a** City Council. Of a City Hall driven by stupidity and self-interest.”
The radio host contended it was Mayor Warren’s “dishonesty that brought this about. As she and her administration portrayed the chief as a liar, as their narrative falsely blamed him for concealing the officer-involved death of Daniel Prude, she violated the values and besmirched the integrity of the chief and everyone who wears a patch like his.”
The official Twitter account for the RPD Major Crimes Unit essentially echoed the same, though Warren’s name was only implied.
“Chief Singletary is not the person we have lost confidence in,” the account posted online.
To those some people – Chief Singletary is not the person we have lost confidence in.
— RPD Major Crimes Unit (@RPD_MCU) September 8, 2020
An officer who spoke on condition of anonymity told Lonsberry that Chief Singletary and the other higher-ups on the force resigned because the mayor publicly “lied about the characters [of] good men” and “gutted the department in the name of politics.”
“The mayor didn’t ask anyone to retire or resign. They did it on their own,” the RPD officer said. “They are pissed that their credibility was publicly tarnished (untruthfully).”
“They are pissed that they cannot make real-time tactical decision without clearing it through City Hall and [are] afraid that someone will [be] hurt because of it,” the officer continued. “The mayor has gutted this department in name of politics. She’s lied about the characters [of] good men. She needs to go. I’m furious.”
A Rochester police officer rages at the mayor. pic.twitter.com/01aBl7cGLS
— Bob Lonsberry (@BobLonsberry) September 8, 2020
Upon hearing the resignation announcements, one city resident who asked to remain anonymous told The Daily Wire he’s worried the city will only descend even further into chaos.
“Are we going to surrender the streets to the mob now? My livelihood is affected. My hours were cut in half for the foreseeable future due to shuttered businesses too scared to open,” the resident said.
Singletary’s retirement announcement expressly confronted the attacks on his character and integrity.
“As a man of integrity, I will not sit idly by while outside entities attempt to destroy my character,” said the police chief, according to News 10 WHEC. “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 Daily Wire reported on the interaction with Prude and law enforcement from March:
Back in March, at the height of the coronavirus pandemic, Daniel Prude, a black male, interacted with officers from the Rochester Police Department (RPD) in New York after at least two people called 911 about Prude’s behavior and welfare, included Prude’s own brother, Joe Prude.
Police reports indicate Prude was restrained by officers while waiting for the ambulance the cops summoned — video (below) suggests this was done soon after Prude told officers, “Give me your gun, I need it.”
As noted by Forbes, Prude “had been taken to the local hospital for suicidal thoughts about eight hours before his encounter with police on March 22.”
As cops were physically restraining the man for about two minutes, body camera footage (which can be viewed below) and media reports suggest the 41-year-old threw up and loss consciousness. He was reportedly resuscitated on the way to the hospital but likely suffered severe brain damage and was pulled from life support about a week later by his family.
Notably, Prude has a mesh-like hood placed over his head, dubbed a “spit hood.” The device is used to protect officers from saliva. Prude was repeatedly spitting and reportedly telling people he had COVID. (The interaction with police was in March, at the height of the novel coronavirus pandemic.)
Related: Entire Rochester Command Staff, Police Chief Resign Over Daniel Prude Case