Rochester Police Chief La'Ron Singletary and Mayor Lovely Warren. Video screenshot, WROC-TV

Most of the police leadership of Rochester, New York, "retired" or took "voluntary demotions" Tuesday, just days after details of the March police killing of Daniel Prude were made public. Prude, 41, was going through a mental health crisis on March 23 when his brother called 911 for help, because Prude was running through the streets naked. Instead of helping, police handcuffed Daniel Prude, covered his head with a "spit bag" to protect themselves from COVID-19, and then knelt on his back. He died in a hospital a week later, in what a coroner's report determined was a homicide, caused by "complications of asphyxia in the setting of physical restraint."

Until Prude's family successfully pursued a public records request, the city and police had released almost no information on Prude's death for months. Last week, the city finally turned over the autopsy report and horrifying body cam video of police restraining Prude. New York Attorney General Letitia James announced Saturday that she will empanel a grand jury as part of her office's investigation of Prude's death. Prude's family has accused the city and police department of covering up his death. No doubt Fox News will call that a crazy conspiracy theory, since it only took four months for the truth to come out. (We are kidding of course. Fox News is only focusing on the scary Black Lives Matter protests that have gone on for a week, because Law And Order.)


Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren announced yesterday that Police Chief La'Ron Singletary would retire at the end of the month. In addition, three other top officials in the police department are retiring, and three others resigned their command positions and returned to lower ranks, The Rochester Democrat and Chronicle explains those three are "moving back to civil service-protected positions, meaning they cannot be fired by the next chief." In addition to yesterday's retirements and self-demotions, Mayor Warren last week suspended the seven officers involved in the arrest of Daniel Prude.

It's a start.

Initially, Singletary had told Warren that Prude had died of a drug overdose (he had PCP in his system, which probably led to his erratic behavior, but he died because cops asphyxiated him). She said she didn't see the video of the arrest until August 4. Since the video was released last Wednesday, Rochester has seen nightly protests, as well as calls for the resignations of Singletary and Warren. Warren said yesterday that she had not asked Singletary to resign, and expressed tepid sorta-kinda support for the police chief:

I think that the chief feels that his career and his integrity you know, has been challenged. He has dedicated 20 years to the city and to the citizens of Rochester, and feels that you know, the events that have happened, were not done in a way that…you know, could have been handled differently. But, you know, he didn't in any way try to cover this up.

That was in contrast to her stronger comments Sunday, when she said, "I do not believe there's another person more dedicated to changing the culture of policing than La'Ron."

Singletary issued a statement saying he had to retire to preserve his honor, somehow:

As a man of integrity, I will not sit idly by while outside entities attempt to destroy my character. [...] 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.

We bet his honor and integrity would be in far better shape if he had actually kept the mayor and the public informed of what had happened to Mr. Prude. Or even better, if the city sent out mental health workers with police on mental health calls. But the important thing here is to remember that Rochester's top cop is a very honorable person of integrity and you should not speak ill of him just because his department killed a man who needed help and then had to be dragged kicking and screaming to release any information about it.

[Rochester Democrat and Chronicle / NPR / NYT / WaPo / NPR]

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Doktor Zoom

Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.

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