After days of protests against the Rochester Police Department in light of the death of Daniel Prude, who suffocated after officers put a hood over his head, its top officer and command staff announced Tuesday they are retiring from the force, ABC News reported.
Rochester Police Chief La’Ron Singletary said in a statement that he was honored to serve the city for 20 years and commended his staff. However, he said the protests and criticism of his handling of the investigation into the March 23 incident "are an attempt to destroy my character and integrity."
"As a man of integrity, I will not sit idly by while outside entities attempt to destroy my character," he added. "The members of the Rochester Police Department and the Greater Rochester Community know my reputation and know what I stand for."
His retirement will take effect on September 29.
Mayor Lovely Warren informed the Rochester City Council that in addition to Singletary, the entire command staff announced its retirement. She noted that none of the police brass were asked to resign.
Deputy Chief Joseph Morabito was also among those retiring. He had served on the Rochester Police Department for 34 years.
"It has also been my honor to serve this community through these many years; a community I was born and raised in, and deeply love," he wrote in a statement quoted by ABC News.
Last week, body camera footage was released showing the March 23 incident involving Rochester police officers and Prude, 41. Prude's brother, Joe, called 911 to get help, saying Daniel was having a mental health emergency.
In the video, officers approached Prude, who was naked, and Prude initially complied with the officers' orders. Prude was subsequently seen shouting and spitting, which prompted officers to place a spit bag over his head.
The officers are then seen pinning Prude to the ground while the bag is still on his head and he eventually goes lifeless. He died a week later.
The New York State Attorney General's Office is investigating the incident. To date, seven Rochester Police Department members have been suspended with pay.