ROCHESTER, N.Y. (NewsNation Now) — Rochester Police Chief La’Ron Singletary and Deputy Chief Joseph Morabito both announced their resignation Tuesday moments before a public briefing with Mayor Lovely Warren and the Rochester City Council.
Mayor Warren said she would resume the City Council briefings Wednesday after council adjourned the meeting upon the major development, but she also informed City Council that the entire command staff of the Rochester Police Department would be joining Singletary in retirement.
The mayor said she did not know if these retirements were effective immediately, and if they were, an interim chief would have to be appointed to oversee the department during these “difficult times,” including who gives orders during planned protests.
Mayor Warren said other retirements include Deputy Chief Joseph Morabito, who commands the Operations Bureau and Deputy Chief of Administration Mark L. Simmons. Rochester police officials released retirement statements from Morabito and Singletary, but no one else at this time, but Warren said more retirements could have happened that she wasn’t told of, as of 3 p.m.
In a statement released to NewsNation affiliate WROC, Rochester Police Chief Singletary said:
“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.
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.
I would like to thank the men and women of the Rochester Police Department, as well as the Rochester Community for allowing me the honor of serving as your Chief and fulfilling a lifelong dream. I look forward to continuing to serve our community in my next chapter.”
Deputy Chief Joseph Morabito also announced his retirement and released the following statement:
“Today, after almost 34 years of dedicated service to the Rochester Police Department and the Rochester Community, I announce my retirement from the Rochester Police Department. It has been my extreme honor to serve with and lead the most dedicated law enforcement professionals in the country.
It has also been my honor to serve this community through these many years; a community I was born and raised in, and deeply love. I have often reflected on my time growing up in this City, and the many friends and neighbors who helped guide me and encouraged my decision to become an officer. I have never regretted that decision, and the people who I have had the privilege of assisting throughout my service, and will always consider my membership with the Rochester Police Department as one of the proudest achievements of my lifetime.”
A Rochester native, and graduate of the Rochester City School District, Singletary has served on the department for 20 years. Local Black Lives Matter activists began calling for Singletary to resign Wednesday, citing his department’s handling of the Daniel Prude death investigation. Singletary said he wouldn’t resign Sunday.
Seven Rochester Police officers were suspended on Sept. 3.
Prude, 41, died March 30 after he was taken off life support, seven days after Rochester police took him into custody. Prude’s family said he was suffering a mental health episode, but on the bodycam video, his brother can be heard telling the responding officer that Prude is high on PCP.
The city halted its investigation into Prude’s death when New York Attorney General Letitia James’ office began its own investigation in April.
In part of the bodycam video obtained by NewsNation, Prude is seen on the ground, naked and speaking incoherently. At one point, police place a mesh hood over his head, which is standard procedure when a subject is spitting. Prude appears agitated and to be spitting. Prude demands they remove the hood.
Later in the footage, Prude argues with the officers and struggles. They force him to the ground and hold him down. 11 minutes after the first officer arrives, they place him in an ambulance. Prude died in the hospital seven days later.
The autopsy report from the Monroe County Medical Examiner’s Office ruled the death of Prude as a homicide. It says the cause of death includes “complications of asphyxia in the setting of physical restraint due to excited delirium due to acute phencyclidine intoxication.” The report also showed that Prude had PCP in his system at the time of his death.
Daniel Prude’s family released a statement to NewsNation through their legal team following the Rochester Police resignations:
“The resignation of the Police Chief in Rochester is an important and necessary step to healing and meaningful reform in the community. Clearly, the conduct of the officers in Mr. Prude’s case was inhumane, and the subsequent cover-up was unacceptable. We look forward to securing justice for Mr. Prude and to having Rochester leaders do the hard work needed to address issues of systemic racism and training protocols in the police department.”
President Trump took to Twitter Tuesday evening to weigh in on the resignations.
“Police Chief, and most of the police in Rochester, N.Y., have resigned. The Democrat Mayor and, of courses, Governor Cuomo, have no idea what to do. New York State is a mess – No Money, High Taxes & Crime, Everyone Fleeing.”
NewsNation affiliate WROC contributed to this report.