The police chief of Rochester, N.Y., resigned Tuesday as criticism mounted over his handling of the death of Daniel Prude, a Black man who died after police placed a mesh hood over his head and pushed him into the street.
Mr. Prude died in a hospital seven days after the March 23 incident, in which Rochester Police Department officers took him into custody after responding to reports of a person acting erratically. He had a history of mental illness.
Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren said at a news conference Thursday that she was initially told by Rochester Police Chief La’Ron Singletary that Mr. Prude died of a drug overdose in police custody.
Ms. Warren announced during a Zoom meeting with the Rochester city council on Tuesday that the entire command staff of the city’s police department has announced their retirement. She said that included the chief and two deputy chiefs and that others may follow.
“This has been very challenging times for the city of Rochester,” Ms. Warren said in the meeting. “The chief was not asked to give his resignation because I do believe he is giving his very best.”
The circumstances surrounding Mr. Prude’s death only became public after his family held a news conference Wednesday and released officers’ body-camera footage showing them restraining him.
The Monroe County Office of the Medical Examiner has ruled Mr. Prude’s death a homicide. An autopsy report said he died of asphyxiation “in a setting of physical restraint” and acute PCP intoxication.
In a statement issued Tuesday, Mr. Singletary said his handling of the death of Mr. Prude has been mischaracterized and politicized.
“As a man of integrity, I will not sit idly by while outside entities attempt to destroy my character,” Mr. Singletary said in the statement.
On Thursday, Ms. Warren said that seven officers involved in the death of Mr. Prude had been suspended, as demonstrations beset the city.
New York Attorney General Letitia James said on Saturday that she would impanel a grand jury to weigh criminal charges in the death of Mr. Prude.
A lawyer representing Mr. Prude’s family didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.
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