Outside the Public Safety Building, protesters wrote “MURDERERS” in red paint, while in front of City Hall, they wrote: “RESIGN.” The message “Black Lives Matter” was also painted on the roadway along the city’s Jefferson Avenue, according to photos and a report from RochesterFirst.com.
Tuesday marked the seventh consecutive night of protests over the upstate New York city’s handling of Prude’s death earlier this year. The demonstrations came amid news about a handful of police department brass who retired or stepped down from high-ranking posts.
“Resign Lovely,” which appeared to be directed at Mayor Lovely Warren, was also written on boards that covered Rochester’s City Hall, according to a tweet by 13WHAM’s Michael Schwartz.
Police made at least one arrest around 10 p.m. Tuesday, when Rochester man Kyle Bradley Davis was arrested and accused of “pointing a laser in the eyes of 7 uniformed Police Officers in an attempt to damage their eyes,” police said in a department press release. It wasn’t clear how many other arrests, if any, were made during Tuesday night’s demonstration.
Police said they ordered Davis to stop several times, and he then tried to flee when officers moved in to arrest him.
One officer suffered a cut and a potential eye injury while they arrested Davis, who was charged with assault on a police officer, attempted assault on a police officer, and resisting arrest, officials said.
Earlier in the night, police officers reported that protesters were throwing rocks at them.
City officials announced Tuesday that Police Chief La’Ron Singletary, Deputy Chief Joseph M. Morabito, and two commanders retired, while two more deputy chiefs and a commander gave up top leadership positions and returned to lower ranks. The outgoing chief accused critics of trying to “destroy my character and integrity.”
“The members of the Rochester Police Department and the Greater Rochester Community know my reputation and know what I stand for,” Singletary said in his own prepared statement. “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.”
Warren said during a video call with members of the City Council that she did not ask Singletary, 40, to resign, but that his abrupt decision to step down came after “new information that was brought to light today that I had not previously seen before.” She did not elaborate.
In response to the news of the police department shake-up, President Trump tweeted that New York State “is a mess – No Money, High Taxes & Crime, Everyone Fleeing.”
The sudden announcements came more than five months after the death of Prude, a 41-year-old Black man who died several days after an encounter with police March 23 in New York’s third-largest city. There have been nightly protests in the city since the video’s release on Sept. 2.
An autopsy deemed Prude’s death a homicide that was caused by “complications of asphyxia in the setting of physical restraint.”
Officers found Prude running naked down the street in March, handcuffed him and put a hood over his head to stop him from spitting, then held him down for about two minutes until he stopped breathing. He died a week later after he was taken off life support.
His brother, Joe Prude, had called 911 seeking help for Daniel Prude’s unusual behavior. He had been taken to a hospital for a mental health evaluation earlier that night but was released after a few hours, his brother told officers.
His death sparked outrage after his relatives last week released police body camera video and written reports they obtained through a public records request.
Seven police officers were suspended a day later, and state Attorney General Letitia James said Saturday she would form a grand jury and conduct an “exhaustive investigation” into Prude’s death.
In a federal lawsuit filed Tuesday, Prude’s family alleged that it took more than 90 seconds for officers to notice he had stopped breathing because they were chatting and making jokes at his expense. Prude’s sister, Tameshay, sued as executor of his estate and named the city of Rochester, Singletary, and officers involved in the arrest as defendants.
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.”
The lawsuit further states that Prude was unarmed and “was in the midst of an acute, manic, psychotic episode.”
Police union officials have said the officers were following their training.
Fox News’ Louis Casiano and The Associated Press contributed to this report.