“As a man of integrity, I will not sit idly by while outside entities attempt to destroy my character,” the chief said in a statement Tuesday. “The events over the past week are an attempt to destroy my character and integrity.”
Singletary said he was stepping down after serving the department and community for 20 years “with honor, pride, and the highest integrity.”
Mayor Lovely Warren said that the chief and his command staff submitted their retirement papers.
The long-delayed announcement that a Black man had been killed by police has led to protests and accusations that local leaders hid the killing from the public.
On Sunday, Warren and Singletary put up a united front and reaffirmed their intention to remain in charge and help reform the city.
The chief’s departure comes after nights of protests over the death of Prude, a naked 41-year-old man who was having a mental health emergency on March 23.
“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 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.”
Though Prude died in March, attorneys for his family released police body camera video that shows officers covering his head with a “spit sock” and holding him on the ground in a prone position before he stopped breathing. Prude stopped breathing and was declared brain-dead at a hospital, where he died on March 30.
The Monroe County medical examiner ruled his death a homicide, citing complications of asphyxia in the setting of physical restraint. The report also cites excited delirium and acute PCP intoxication as causes of death.
New York Attorney General Letitia James announced Saturday that she’s forming a grand jury to investigate his death.
On Thursday, Warren indicated she had initially been misled by Singletary, who she said led her to believe the man died in police custody of an overdose.
But on Sunday, Warren said the police chief provided the information he knew when he had it.
Warren said that after she saw the body camera footage on August 4, she sent a list of requests to the chief regarding what she needed to know in future cases.
Singletary said that he was aware there was a use of force in the case, but didn’t elaborate further on what aspects of the case he knew at what times.
The mayor discussed the chief’s intention to retire during a web-streamed meeting involving police and the City Council to discuss the protests. The chief apparently did not call into the meeting.
The mayor said she did not know who would serve as chief in the interim.
Warren on Thursday suspended with pay seven officers involved in Prude’s arrest. She said she moved to suspend them after learning that there was no longer concern for interfering with the New York attorney general’s investigation.