The entire leadership of the Rochester, New York police department has reportedly decided to suddenly retire, leaving Mayor Lovely Warren to handle by herself the upcoming protests over the death of an African-American man.
Police Chief La’Ron Singletary and Deputy Chief Joseph M. Morabito are both retiring, Warren told reporters on Tuesday, adding she didn’t know who would be in charge of the department during the evening’s Black Lives Matter protest.
JUST IN: Rochester police chief, entire command staff retire suddenly following protests in death of Daniel Prude. https://t.co/H8Kvx517Ym
The protests over the past week have been “an attempt to destroy my character and integrity,” Singletary told local radio station WXXI earlier in the day.
“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,” said the now-former chief, who is himself African-American.
Daniel Prude died in March, but his death triggered protests only last week, after police body camera footage of the incident was released. The 41-year-old African-American had stripped naked and was under the influence of the drug PCP when his brother called the police. The footage showed officers placing a ‘spit hood’ on Prude, who ultimately suffocated. All of this happened before Singletary became chief of Rochester PD in April.
The chief’s resignation was welcomed by the protest organizers.
“This is great news,” Iman Abid, speaking for Free the People ROC, told AP. “It says to the people that people are able to move things and to shape things. The police chief wouldn’t retire if it weren’t for something that he felt he was accountable to.”
She added that protests will continue until the Mayor Warren – who is also African American – resigns, police is demilitarized and defunded, and New York state passes a law banning police from responding to mental health calls, such as Prude’s brother had made.
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