Rochester, NY, police commanders urged city officials to hold off on publicly releasing body camera footage of Daniel Prude’s in-custody death because they feared violent blowback if the video came out during nationwide protests over the police killing of George Floyd, the Associated Press reports.
Deputy Chief Mark Simmons cited the “current climate” in the city and the nation in a June 4 email advising then-Chief La’ron Singletary to press the city’s lawyers to deny a Prude family lawyer’s public records request for the footage of the March 23 encounter that led to his death.
The video was made public by Prude’s family on Sept. 4.
“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,” Simmons wrote. “That would simply be a false narrative, and could create animosity and potentially violent blow back in this community as a result.”
The city, which was the site of protests and riots after the video was made public, released the emails, police reports and other documents on Monday as Mayor Lovely Warren fired Chief Singletary and suspended Corporation Counsel Tim Curtin and Communications Director Justin Roj without pay for 30 days amid continuing fallout from Prude’s death. Simmons was named interim chief of the police department, the AP reports.
Chief Singletary announced his retirement last week.