▶ Watch Video: Protesting in Rochester continues, demanding justice for Daniel Prude

The police chief in Rochester, New York, announced his retirement Tuesday as his department faces scrutiny over the March death of Daniel Prude, a 41-year-old Black man who died in police custody. Chief La’Ron Singletary, a 20-year veteran of the department, was appointed to the role by Mayor Lovely Warren last year.

Singletary issued a statement saying he was retiring because he would 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 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 added. 

Warren, in a city council meeting Tuesday, said she had not asked Singletary to resign and said other top-ranking officials had retired alongside Singletary. 

Deputy Chief Joseph Morabito, who worked at the department for nearly 34 years, also announced his retirement. “It has been my extreme honor to serve with and lead the most dedicated law enforcement professionals in the country,” he said in a statement.

Prude’s death was largely unknown until last week when his family released body camera footage of his encounter with police. The footage showed officers confronting a naked Prude, who his family said was having a mental health episode, on a Rochester street on March 23. 

The footage, which sparked protests in the city, showed officers handcuffing Prude, putting a spit sock over his face and shoving his face into the ground for more than three minutes. Seven officers involved in the arrest have been suspended.

Rochester Police Chief La’Ron Singletary on September 6, 2020.

Brendan McDermid / REUTERS

Warren last week claimed Singletary had originally told her that Prude had died of an overdose in police custody and that she had not seen the footage of Prude’s death until early August.

“l have addressed with Police Chief La’Ron Singletary how deeply disappointed I am in him personally and professionally for failing to fully and accurately inform me about what occurred to Mr. Prude,” Warren said at the time. “He knows he needs to do better to truly protect and serve our community and I know he will.”

This is a developing story. Check back for more updates.

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