The police chief of Rochester, New York resigned on Tuesday, amid swirling accusations of a cover-up in the death of Daniel Prude, a Black man who suffocated at the hands of Rochester police officers this past March while suffering an apparent mental health episode.
"As a man of integrity, I will not sit idly by while outside entities attempt to destroy my character," Chief La'Ron D. Singletary wrote in a 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."
Singletary announced his retirement minutes before he was expected to appear alongside the city's mayor, Lovely Warren, to answer questions about the investigation into Prude's death. Multiple other police leaders have resigned as well, according to the city's mayor.
"The entire Rochester Police Department command staff has announced their retirement," Mayor Warren told the City Council during the video conference Tuesday afternoon. "That includes the police chief."
The Rochester police department has faced growing scrutiny over their handling of Prude's death. Prude suffocated after officers placed him in a spit hood and pinned him to the pavement in March. Video of the encounter was not made public until last week, when it was released by Prude's family.
City officials claimed that their investigation and the release of the footage was delayed at the request of State Attorney General Letitia James, who launched her own inquiry in late April. But James has denied that explanation.
Governor Andrew Cuomo said on Tuesday that the state would investigate the delay in public disclosure. The governor also suggested that the attorney general had not seen the video until this week. In fact, James had the body camera footage of Prude's death since at least June, according to the Democrat & Chronicle.
Activists in Rochester have questioned the timeline offered by local officials, accusing Warren and Singletary of covering up the death. Protests have roiled the city in recent days, and police have fired tear gas and pepper balls at the demonstrators.
On Saturday, James empaneled a grand jury as part of her "exhaustive" investigation, and seven officers involved in restraining Prude have been suspended with pay.
Singletary said this weekend that he had no plans to resign, despite growing calls from activists to do so.