Rochester mayor ousts police chief after Daniel Prude's death

The mayor of Rochester, New York, has relieved the city's police chief of his duties and suspended the city's top lawyer following Daniel Prude's death in police custody. Mayor Lovely Warren on Monday also announced an internal review of the handling of the case, citing "failures that happened along the way."

Warren said Monday would be Police Chief La'Ron Singletary's last day with the city's police department and that two city employees have been suspended without pay: communications director Justin Roj and the city's top lawyer Tim Curtin. Singletary had originally planned to retire at the end of the month.

Warren said the culture of policing in Rochester needs to change and apologized for how carelessly the case has been reviewed.

"I have directed the deputy mayor to initiative an internal management review of the city handling of the mental hygiene arrest and subsequent death of Daniel Prude," Warren told reporters. "Frankly, the public should have been informed of Mr. Prude's death and the circumstances that led to his death in March, and after seeing the video, I should have conducted a formal review.

"This initial look has shown that we have a pervasive problem in the Rochester Police Department, one that views everything through the eyes of the badge and not the citizens we serve," Warren added, saying she has apologized to Prude's family for the city's failures. "Never again can we allow any man or woman to needlessly die in police custody."

Warren called for a federal review into the Prude investigation and asked the U.S. Attorney's Office to look into any violations of Prude's civil rights. "This tragic loss of life has shown that we have systematic failures," she said. "We have to acknowledge these failures and put in place these forms that create transparency."

Prude's death was largely unknown until his family released body camera footage of his encounter with police. The footage showed officers confronting a naked Prude, who his family said was having a mental health episode, on a Rochester street on March 23.

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The footage, which sparked protests in the city, showed officers handcuffing Prude, putting a spit sock over his face and shoving his face into the ground for more than three minutes. Seven officers involved in the arrest have been suspended.

Victoria Albert contributed to this report.

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