Breaking down City of Rochester’s 323-page report into Daniel Prude death investigation

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren announced Monday a “comprehensive” review of the Daniel Prude death in March, and the ensuing investigations that have been underway since.

The report is 323 pages long and can be seen in its entirety here:

Daniel Prude death preliminary report

The report was released after the mayor held a press conference at City Hall Monday where she announced that it was Police Chief La’Ron Singletary’s last day in the position. The mayor also announced that City of Rochester Communications Director Justin Roj has been suspended without pay.

MORE | Mayor Warren: Chief Singletary out, city’s communication director, lawyer suspended, internal review underway

Additionally, the mayor also announced that Tim Curtin, of City Corporation Counsel, is also suspended without pay. The mayor said Roj and Curtin were suspended for “failure to act, inform, and follow policy and procedures.”

The Office of Public Integrity has been instructed to initiate a thorough investigation to see if any city employees, including Mayor Warren, violated policies over the handling of Prude’s death and his civil rights.

Prude file notes

Page 66: RPD Professional Standards Section says on March 23 : “No evidence to suggest any misconduct and/or misjudgment on the part of the involved officers.”

Page 73: Police report from the incident has Daniel Prude’s name circled with a note that says: “Make him a suspect.”

Page 105: In an email dated April 10, 2020 from Chief Singletary to Communications Director Roj, chief says “The Mayor has been in the loop on such since 3/23. Law is in the loop. I am just waiting for the Mayor to call me back to give her the update on the M.E.’s ruling.”

The mayor has said that she knew nothing of the Prude death investigation from his passing on March 30, until seeing the body camera footage on August 4 for the first time.

Page 201: Tab 23 reveals an email chain from multiple high-ranking members of the RPD, and members of the city’s legal department, as they discuss the ramifications of releasing the body camera footage to the public, as protests waged on nationwide in the wake of George Floyd’s death — including here in Rochester on March 30 which saw a violent riot break out just days before this email thread.

In an email to Singletary, now-interim chief Mark Simmons said: “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. That would simply be a false narrative, and could create animosity and potentially violent blow back in this community as a result.”

The deputy chief said federal guidelines regarding law enforcement investigations could make the FOIL request exempt and Singletary later agreed to Simmons’ sentiments.

In an email on the same day, RPD Capt. Frank Umbrino encouraged the mayor’s office to partake in the discussion of releasing the body camera footage, saying in part: “In light of the recent events throughout the country, any release of information should be in conjunction with and coordinated with the Mayor and the Chief as it very well have some intense ramifications.”

Also emailing that day was Mark Perkowski of RPD, who was reaching out to city attorney Stephanie Prince. Perkowski said in part: “I pay may be overthinking this, but I would think the Chief’s Office and the Mayor’s Office would want a heads up before this goes out.

Correspondence from Mayor Warren doesn’t appear in this document until page 308, in an August 4th email draft to Chief Singletary in which she responds to the chief in what she saw in the video body camera footage. This despite multiple Rochester police officials requesting the mayor’s input in a June 4th email chain, beginning on page 201, but nothing directly to or from the mayor is included in that section of the file.

It should be noted that this preliminary investigation was made public through the mayor’s office Monday and that City Council still intends to use its subpoena power for a complete and independent review.

Rochester City Council issued a statement Monday in regards to the Mayor’s announcement, noting the Council first found out about the Mayor’s intention when she announced them publicly, and that the Council would still be conducting its own investigation. The statement said in part:

“The Council only learned of this investigation, its contents, and subsequent measures proposed by the Mayor when announced at this afternoon’s press conference. While we appreciate the Mayor’s desire to have the City’s Office of Public Integrity look into this matter, we understand the importance of having a review conducted by a separate branch of Government with independent legal counsel. We will review information related to the Deputy Mayor’s report and findings, and share them.”

Prude, a 41-year-old Black man from Chicago, died after an encounter with Rochester police back in March, but news of the incident just came to light on September 2, and now the case is being investigated by the New York State Attorney General’s Office.

The autopsy report from the Monroe County Medical Examiner’s Office ruled the death of Prude a homicide. The report says Prude’s cause of death includes “complications of asphyxia in the setting of physical restraint.” The report also showed that Prude also had a small amount of PCP in his system at the time of his death, which could explain his erratic behavior.

MORE | WATCH: Footage of encounter between Daniel Prude and Rochester police officers before his death

Seven Rochester police officers have been suspended with pay in connection to the incident: Officers Mark Vaughn, Troy Taladay, Paul Ricotta, Francisco Santiago, Andrew Specksgoor, Josiah Harris, and Sgt. Michael Magri.

Protests have been ongoing in Rochester since the news broke September 2.

Prude’s family has filed a federal civil rights lawsuit accusing the city of a cover-up.

Check back with News 8 WROC as we will continue to update this developing story.

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