Rochester Mayor Fires Police Chief, Suspends Two Top Officials

Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren left speaks to the media during a press conference Thursday Sept. 3 2020 where she announced the suspension of officers involved in the death of Daniel Prude

Thus, her call on the DOJ to investigate the City and RPD's mishandling of the Daniel Prude incident rings hollow, and we still have no assurances that she is actually committed to bringing about systemic reforms in the RPD.

In a hastily called press conference at City Hall on Monday morning, Mayor Lovely Warren announced the release of the 323-page comprehensive review of the Daniel Prude death in March, and the ensuing investigations that have been underway since.

Warren also announced that she suspended City Corporation Counsel Tim Curtin and Communications Director Justin Roj without pay for 30 days.

City officials later confirmed that Deputy Chief Mark Simmons will serve as acting police chief for 30 days.

Prude's family contends his death and a cover-up stem from longstanding police department policy and practice that "condones and encourages officers to use excessive force as a matter of course, and to lie in official police paperwork and sworn testimony to justify their unlawful actions".

Daniel Prude's death in New York State in March led to days of protests in Rochester and was one of the key events in months of unrest over racial injustice in the US. Some protesters are demanding that Warren resign.

"This initial look has shown what so many have suspected, that we have a pervasive problem in the Rochester Police Department", Warren said, according to The Associated Press.

The Mayor says her review shows Prude's death "was not taken as seriously as it should have been by those who reviewed the case throughout city government at every level". Warren has also called for a federal investigation of the Rochester Police Department.

A Rochester police officer puts a hood over the head of Daniel Prude on March 23
A Rochester police officer puts a hood over the head of Daniel Prude on March 23

According to WHAM-13, Warren is "directing the Office of Public Integrity to investigate whether any city employees, including herself, violated policies or ethical standards in Prude's death, and she is calling on the U.S. Attorney General's Office to investigate any possible civil rights violations".

"I have apologised to the Prude family and this community for the failures that happened along the way, including my own", she said.

The deputy mayor wrote in a summary of his report that he was directed to begin the process of determining "who knew what and when" between the March 23 incident and early September. A police lieutenant may have also inappropriately sought to influence the results of Prude's autopsy, the report states. Those form the basis of his eight recommendations.

Warren requested that the Justice Department conduct a review of the police department and that the city hire an outside agency to review training manuals and regulations for police officers.

Mr Prude's family have filed a federal lawsuit accusing the police department of trying to cover up the facts around his death.

In the video, officers approach Prude, who is naked, and Prude initially complies with the officers' orders. "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".

Rochester City Attorney Stephanie Prince declined to comment when reached by CNN.

She also called on the USA attorney general to investigate whether Prude's civil rights were violated in the arrest.

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County spokesman Phil Vanno said the county received 899 test results in the past day, and all were negative. Despite the fact that cases have greatly fluctuated in September, deaths have been steadily declining.

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