Former Rochester Police Chief La’Ron Singletary files lawsuit against Mayor Warren, City

Monroe County

Former RPD Chief accused mayor of defamation of character, wrongful termination and seeks $1.5 million in damages

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — Former Rochester Police Chief La’Ron Singletary has filed a lawsuit against Mayor Lovely Warren, and the City of Rochester.

Singletary filed a notice of claim in December, accusing the mayor of defamation of character, wrongful termination, and more.

The civil suit, filed Tuesday afternoon in New York State Supreme Court, is 26 pages long, and details Singletary’s complaints against the mayor (full document embedded below).

The lawsuit reiterates much of what Singletary said in his nine-hour public deposition regarding the death of Daniel Prude — that the mayor said things that weren’t true and asked the chief to lie publicly.

The lawsuit says the mayor’s “false and defamatory statement” as well as “material omissions” cause harm to Singletary’s reputation for “honesty, integrity, truthfulness.” It alleges pressure to support Warren’s “false narrative” created a “hostile work environment” that prevented Singletary from “performing his duties as Chief of Police.”

According to the lawsuit, Singletary is seeking $1.5 million in damages.

The lawsuit references an interview they mayor had with News 8 WROC anchor Adam Chodak last September, where Warren said Rochester police misled her about Prude’s death, saying it was “clear deception” on the behalf of the police department, and that the misleading was “done purposely.”

City of Rochester officials released a statement Wednesday afternoon, saying:

As detailed in recent court proceedings reported today involving other officers, there has been a legacy in the Rochester Police Department of untruthfulness. Mr. Singletary’s testimony to the Special Counsel detailed his own inability to tell the truth, as a simple viewing of his testimony under oath clearly shows. Mr. Singletary failed in his duties as Chief and was rightfully terminated due to those faliures. [sic]

Singletary was fired by Mayor Warren last September, less than two weeks after details of details of Daniel Prude’s death became public.

In March 2020, Rochester police responded to the area of Jefferson Avenue Dr. Samuel McCree Way, where Prude was having what New York Attorney General Letitia James would later call “a mental health crisis.” Body camera footage showed officers pinning him to the ground, naked on a freezing night, and putting a mesh spit mask over his head.

Prude lost consciousness, was hospitalized, and died 7 days later. He was 41 years old. The circumstances of Prude’s death were not made public until September of 2020, six months after it happened. The body camera footage and the delay sparked protests in Rochester and beyond.

Warren said Singletary characterized Prude’s death as a drug overdose.

The Monroe County Medical Examiner’s Office ruled Prude’s death a homicide, listing his cause of death as “complications of asphyxia in the setting of physical restraint.” The report also showed he had a small amount of PCP in his system at the time of his death.

Public disagreements between Mayor Warren and then-Police Chief Singletary highlighted the controversies brought up by the officials’ handling of the case. That culminated in a nearly nine-hour deposition in which Singletary disputed the mayor’s claims regarding Prude’s death and the six-month delay between when it happened and when the public was notified.

An independent City Council investigation concluded that key City of Rochester officials “knowingly suppressed” information about Prude’s death, and said the ultimate decision to not disclose the death of Prude to the public was that of Mayor Lovely Warren, but it fell short of saying she was solely responsible.

A grand jury decided not to indict any of the police officers involved in Prude’s death back in February.

A federal civil lawsuit filed from the Prude family against the City of Rochester alleges there was an internal cover-up

Aside from Singletary, who announced his retirement before being fired, several other high-ranking members within the RPD’s command staff have also announced retirements, in a major leadership shake-up for the city’s police department. Singletary applied for the police chief job in Austin, Texas earlier this year, but ultimately did not get the job as the city narrowed its search to three other candidates last month.

The seven Rochester police officers initially suspended with pay in connection to the incident were Mark Vaughn, Troy Taladay, Paul Ricotta, Francisco Santiago, Andrew Specksgoor, Josiah Harris, and Sgt. Michael Magri.

The Rochester Police Department completed its internal investigation into Daniel Prude’s death in early July, but nearly two months later have still not released the findings of that investigation to the public.

Full lawsuit


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

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