Cops, Officials Worked Hard to Keep Prude's Death Hush-Hush

Documents show the lengths they went to over a period of months
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 16, 2020 5:00 AM CDT
Updated Sep 16, 2020 6:27 AM CDT
Cops, Officials Worked Hard to Hush Up Daniel Prude's Death
Rochester Police Chief La'Ron Singletary, right, seen before a community meeting in Rochester, N.Y., Thursday, Sept. 3, 2020.   (AP Photo/Adrian Kraus)

  • The Rochester Police Department and other officials in the upstate New York city attempted to keep the death of Daniel Prude quiet, according to documents released by the city Monday. Per the Washington Post and the New York Times, the documents show how information was withheld for months after Prude, a Black man, died after police pinned him to the ground with a hood over his head in March. Sample exchange: "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," wrote the deputy police chief to the police chief in June amid widespread protests over the deaths of other Black people during encounters with police. "That would simply be a false narrative, and could create animosity and potentially violent blowback in this community as a result."

Then-Chief La’Ron Singletary, who was fired Monday, replied: "I totally agree." On one police report, an edit reads, "Make him a suspect" rather than simply referring to Prude as an individual, as the officer writing the report initially had. Other documents show police and city officials attempting to avoid releasing video of the encounter publicly. "This initial look has shown what so many have suspected, that we have a pervasive problem in the Rochester Police Department,” said Mayor Lovely Warren in announcing Singletary's termination. “One that views everything through the eyes of the badge and not the citizens we serve. It shows that Mr. 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.” Prude's death first made headlines only after his family released video of the police encounter this month; Warren says she did not get a full account of his death until August. But Singletary said in an April email that she "has been in the loop" since Prude was placed in police custody. (More Daniel Prude stories.)

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