Rochester, N.Y., Police Chief La'Ron Singletary announced Tuesday that he will step down amid ongoing protests in the city in response to the death of Daniel Prude.
In a statement announcing his retirement reported by local media, Singletary said he has served the Rochester Police Department and the local community for two decades and decried "outside entities" he said have attempted to "destroy" his character as the department comes under scrutiny in the wake of Prude's death. "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.
Prude, a Black man, died of asphyxiation in March after local police put a hood over his head and pressed his head to a street for two minutes. The 41-year-old had been apprehended after he was seen running naked outside. Within days of the encounter, Prude had been placed on life support.
His death only gained national attention after his family released records and footage last week.
The case has since added fuel to protests against racism and police brutality that have taken place across the country all summer in response to the police killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Rayshard Brooks and other Black Americans.
Singletary has faced calls to resign over the past week as concerns rise over the department's handling of mental health cases in the aftermath of Prude's death.
According to local station WROC, Prude's death was ruled a homicide by Monroe County Medical Examiner's Office. Among the causes of death listed on the office's autopsy report obtained by the outlet was "complications of asphyxia in the setting of physical restraint," "excited delirium," and "acute phencyclidine (PCP) intoxication."
However, Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren (D), whose office only recently suspended the officers involved the encounter with Prude, said earlier this month that she was told by Singletary in late March that Prude "had an apparent drug overdose while in custody."
"Chief Singletary never informed me of the actions of his officers to forcible restrain Mr. Prude. I only learned of those officer's actions on August 4 when corporation counsel reviewed the video while fulfilling the FOIL request from Mr. Prude's attorney. At no time, prior to August 4, did Chief Singletary, or anyone, make me aware or show me the video of the actions of the RPD officers involved in Mr. Prude's death," she said at the time. M O R E
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