Top Rochester Police Leaders Retire Following Protests

September 8, 2020 Updated: September 8, 2020

Top police leaders in Rochester, New York, announced their retirements Tuesday.

Police Chief La’Ron Singletary, Deputy Chief Joseph M. Morabito and a commander retired, while two more leaders gave up command positions.

Black Lives Matter activists have called for Singletary to resign or be fired over how his department handled the investigation into the death of a black man who a medical official said was under the influence of PCP earlier this year.

“After 20 years of dedicated service to the Rochester Police Department and the Rochester Community, I announce my retirement from the Rochester Police Department. For the past two decades, I have served this community with honor, pride, and the highest integrity,” Singletary said, reported Rochester First and other local news outlets.

Singletary said that he won’t “sit idly” while outside forces try “to destroy my character,” adding that events “over the past week are an attempt to destroy my character and integrity.”

“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,” he said.

Rochester Police Chief La'Ron Singletary
Rochester Police Chief La’Ron Singletary (R) stands with Reverend Lewis W. Stewart (L) of the United Christian Leadership Ministry before a community meeting in Rochester, N.Y., on Sept. 3, 2020. (Adrian Kraus/AP Photo)

Prude, a 41-year-old male from Chicago, died during an encounter with police in March. Video footage of the incident was released last month in the midst of nationwide unrest and riots.

An autopsy report from the Monroe County Medical Examiner’s Office ruled his death a homicide, but it also stipulated that his cause of death included “complications of asphyxia in the setting of physical restraint.”

It added that Prude had PCP in his system at the time of his death. PCP, which is a dissociative hallucinogenic drug similar to DXM and ketamine, can produce delusions, irrationality, hallucinations, and other symptoms. Those who are under the influence may experience a reduced sensitivity to pain or feelings of super-strength and invulnerability.

Police said that Prude was allegedly smashing windows at storefronts and claiming he had COVID-19. A person who called 911 said Prude was naked and covered in blood.

The New York Attorney General’s office is investigating the incident.

Over the past week or so, rioters set fire to a number of businesses and smashed windows of buildings in Rochester.

The Associated Press contributed to this report