The mayor of Rochester, New York has fired Police Chief La’Ron Singletary and suspended two city officials over the handling of the asphyxiation death of Daniel Prude in police custody.
Video footage, released by Prude’s family, showed officers using a mesh hood and pinning the 41-year-old Black man to the pavement during the March arrest.
The footage has raised questions of a possible cover-up and turned Rochester into a flashpoint in a summer of protests over racial injustice and policing – protests first sparked in the United States by George Floyd’s May 25 death in Minneapolis police custody.
“We have a pervasive problem in the Rochester Police Department, one that views everything through the eyes of the badge and not the citizens that we serve,” Mayor Lovely Warren said during a news conference on Monday. “It shows that Mr Prude’s death was not taken as seriously as it should have been.”
Warren also announced that she had suspended City Corporation Counsel Tim Curtin and Communications Director Justin Roj without pay for 30 days.
Singletary resigned last Tuesday along with his command staff, saying there had been a “mischaracterisation and politicisation” of his actions following the death of Prude in police custody. It was unclear when the resignations would take effect.
Seven police officers involved in the arrest were suspended on September 3 shortly after protests erupted following the release of the video of Prude’s arrest.
The medical examiner ruled his death a homicide by asphyxiation, with the drug PCP a contributing factor. He was having a psychotic episode when he was arrested.