Singletary drops suit, reaches settlement with city

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Former Rochester Police Department chief La’Ron Singletary has agreed to drop a wrongful termination suit he filed against the city last year in exchange for $75,000 and the city’s agreement to provide health coverage for himself.

Singletary sued the city in September 2021, claiming that former mayor Lovely Warren wrongly fired him. The wrongful termination action sought at least $900,000. 

According to a statement released Sunday by Rochester Mayor Malik Evans, the settlement was negotiated during the previous administration. The city and the former chief inked a final agreement in December, the release states. 

Warren stepped down as mayor Dec. 1, ending her term a month early as part of a plea deal reached with prosecutors in October to settle criminal charges of campaign violations during her 2017 mayoral campaign. 

Warren and Singletary parted ways as both caught heat for the city’s handling of the death of Daniel Prude, a Black man who died in March 2020 after being restrained and arrested by Rochester police officers. Police placed Prude’s head in a so-called spit hood. Prude at the time was naked and high on PCP. While under restraint, Prude lost consciousness. He died without having regained consciousness a week later at Strong Memorial Hospital. The Monroe County Medical Examiner ruled the death a homicide. 

The manner of Prude’s death only became public months after it occurred when Prude’s family obtained RPD body worn camera footage of the arrest.  The family’s revelation of the death in a press conference sparked widespread demonstrations over what activists saw as a coverup. 

Demonstrators called for both Singletary and Warren to step down. But neither the chief nor the mayor accepted full blame for keeping Prude’s death under wraps. 

Singletary claimed to have told Warren about the incident and waited for the mayor to take action. Warren claimed to have been unaware of the incident until shortly before the Prude family’s press conference.

As tensions between the mayor and the police chief mounted, Singletary loudly accused Warren of lying and “throwing me under the bus.” Warren fired Singletary after accusing him of hiding details of Prude’s arrest from her. Singletary had announced his retirement roughly a week before he was fired.

In an exhaustive investigation mounted by City Council, attorney Andrew Celli determined that Singletary had favored keeping the Prude incident under wraps over fears of demonstrations and that Warren’s claim of only learning about the incident late in the game did not square with testimony of several city officials.

Since leaving the force, Singletary switched his party affiliation from Democrat to Republican and announced that he will challenge Rep. Joe Morelle, D-Irondequoit, for Monroe County’s 25th district congressional seat.  

Will Astor is Rochester Beacon senior writer. The Beacon welcomes comments from readers who adhere to our comment policy including use of their full, real name.

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