Former Rochester police chief La’Ron Singletary is allegedly refusing to cooperate with a city council probe of the department’s response to the death of Daniel Prude, according to the lawyer leading the investigation.
The Rochester City Council subpoenaed Singletary earlier this month seeking documents and testimony related to the death of Prude, a Black man who died after his arrest in March.
“Former Chief Singletary, through his attorney, has conveyed that he is unwilling to provide documents or give testimony in response to the Council’s subpoena,” attorney and lead investigator Andrew Celli Jr. wrote in a statement released Monday.
Celli called the alleged refusal “very unfortunate,” but said it would not “materially impede” the council’s progress.
“Even as we actively consider remedies for such non-compliance (including, but not limited to, court enforcement), our work will continue, drawing on the many other sources of documentary evidence and testimony that are available to us,” he continued.
Singletary, who was fired by Mayor Lovely Warren amid protests over the handling of the case by police and city hall, had previously announced his retirement on Sept. 8 as part of a major shakeup of the city’s police leadership. At the time, he had planned to stay on through the end of the month and reportedly accused critics of trying to “destroy my character and integrity.”
He claims he’s not bound by a subpoena since he’s no longer a city employee, Celli said, according to RochesterFirst.com.
Singletary’s lawyer, Michael Tallon, said in a letter to Celli last week that records sought from Singletary will be preserved. He questioned the integrity of the investigation and said he will wait until other city officials, including the mayor, give testimony, and then decide how best to cooperate.
A receptionist at Tallon’s office hung up when contacted by Fox News.
In September, Mayor Lovely Warren’s office released 325 pages of documents pertaining to the March 2020 death of 41-year-old Prude.
The documents showed that police officials sought to deny a request made by the attorney of Joe Prude, Daniel Prude's brother, to release the body-camera footage from the arrest. They referenced "the current climate in this city and the nation" as their reason.
“We certainly do not want people to misinterpret the officers’ actions and conflate this incident with any recent killings of unarmed Black men by law enforcement nationally,” Deputy Chief Mark Simmons wrote in a June 4 email to Singletary. “That would simply be a false narrative, and could create animosity and potentially violent blowback in this community as a result.”
The video was ultimately released to Prude’s family, who made it public at the beginning of September.
Daniel Prude was handcuffed by police around 3:20 a.m. on March 23, after his brother called police to take him back to the hospital, where he had been hours earlier.
“At around 3 a.m. Daniel was acting very strange again – he ran out my back door wearing only a tank top and some long johns,” Joe Prude wrote in a supporting deposition later released in the trove of documents. “I called the police again so they could find him and take him back to the hospital.”
Footage shows Prude naked and sitting in the street wearing a mesh covering, known as a spit hood, over his head. Over the course of the interaction, one officer can be seen pressing his knee to Prude’s back while another pushes his face to the pavement. They allegedly held Prude down for approximately two minutes, but they later realized he didn't have a pulse and began CPR.
He was taken off life support on March 30.
A medical examiner concluded that Prude’s death was a homicide caused by “complications of asphyxia in the setting of physical restraint.” The report lists excited delirium and acute intoxication by phencyclidine, or PCP, as contributing factors.
Prude was from Chicago and traveled to Rochester on March 22 to visit his brother. According to a previously released internal affairs investigator’s report, Prude was kicked off the train before it arrived in Rochester for "his unruly behavior."
Police met up with him soon after making his way to a phone store where he possibly "threw a cinder block through the store window before being spotted by a tow truck driver." Police said the tow truck driver described Prude as being naked, covered in blood, and said he had told the driver he had the coronavirus.
Lawyers representing the seven Rochester police officers suspended with pay during an investigation into the death of Daniel Prude said earlier this month that events leading up to the man’s death were not being portrayed fully.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.