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Rochester mayor and top officials ‘suppressed’ information about Daniel Prude’s death, independent report says

According to the report, Warren, former Police Chief La’Ron Singletary, corporation counsel Timothy Curtin, and Rochester communications director Justin Roj were all aware by “mid-April 2020” that a medical examiner had determined that Prude died from “asphyxia in the setting of physical restraint” by Rochester police officers who were under criminal investigation for their conduct.

Nonetheless, the report states, that information was not made public until the Prude family held a press conference on September 2.

“In the final analysis, the decision not to publicly disclose these facts rested with Mayor Warren, as the elected Mayor of the City of Rochester,” the report states. “But Mayor Warren alone is not responsible for the suppression of the circumstances of the Prude Arrest and Mr. Prude’s death.”

Investigators wrote that Warren was made aware of the Prude arrest the next day, and was given updates by Singletary after he viewed the body-worn camera footage. Singletary also informed Warren of Prude’s death days later. According to the report, Warren did not view the footage herself until early August.

Singletary was fired in September for his handling of the case, and Curtin and Roj were temporarily suspended from their roles.

The report said Singletary “consistently deemphasized” the medical examiner’s finding that police restraint was a cause of Prude’s death, and for discouraging the release of body-worn camera footage.

Investigators also criticized Curtin, who “actively discouraged” Warren from releasing the body camera footage, “citing reasons that were factually incorrect, legally without basis, or both.”

The report further alleges that Curtin incorrectly asserted that New York Attorney General Letitia James had told city officials to “stand down” and refrain from commenting on Prude’s death.

Roj, “the very official responsible for communicating with the public through the media,” was also aware of the facts of Prude’s death for months before that information being made public, investigators said.

When the information surrounding Prude’s death did become public, the report says, Warren characterized it as an “overdose,” despite having had knowledge of the medical examiner’s findings — which listed “complications of asphyxia in the setting of physical restraint” alongside PCP intoxication as a cause of death.

Protesters gather in Rochester streets after announcement that no officers will be charged in Daniel Prude's death
In a statement shared with CNN, Warren said she welcomed the report.

“Throughout City government, we have acknowledged our responsibility, recognized that changes are necessary and taken action,” she said. “By creating our Person In Crisis teams, calling for the right to fire officers for cause, and reforming our FOIL and Body-Worn Camera processes, we are doing the work this moment demands.”

“Now, we must go even further and honor Daniel Prude by fully addressing our challenges regarding policing, mental health treatment and systemic inequality,” she added. “I remain committed to doing this work along with City Council.”

Roj declined to comment on the report. Neither Curtin nor attorneys for Singletary responded immediately to a request for comment.

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