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Former RPD Chief Singletary Holding Off on Testimony in Prude Investigation

Patti Singer
pattisinger@minorityreporter.net

Rev. Lewis Stewart of United Christian Leadership, left, and then-Rochester Police Chief La’Ron Singletary, center, chat before a community event Sept. 3, 2020 at First Church of God on Clarissa Street. Former Deputy Chief Mark Mura is in foreground. File photo

Former Rochester Police Chief La’Ron Singletary does not appear to be cooperating at this time in the independent investigation launched by City Council into the aftermath of the death of Daniel Prude.

“Former Chief Singletary, through his attorney, has conveyed that he is unwilling to provide documents or give testimony in response to the Council’s subpoena,” according to an update provided by Andrew Celli Jr., who is leading the investigation.

“Chief Singletary’s refusal to cooperate in the Investigation, while very unfortunate, will not materially impede our progress,” Celli wrote in the update provided to the media. “Even as we actively consider remedies for such non-compliance (including, but not limited to, court enforcement), our work will continue, drawing on the many other sources of documentary evidence and testimony that are available to us.”

Celli has been issuing updates regarding issuance of subpoenas. On Oct. 26, he released a statement on the status of the investigation, which was authorized by City Council to look into the communication after the death of Daniel Prude. Celli is a partner in the firm Emery Celli Brinckerhoff Abady Ward & Maazel.

Celli released correspondence from mid-October between himself and attorneys for Singletary who challenged the authority of Celli to issue subpoenas. Attorney Michael Tallon, who along with Jon Getz represents Singletary, wrote a letter to Celli and asked for “the statute, code or regulation that authorizes the judicial enforcement of the subpoena power authorized by City Council to your law firm.” In a separate letter, Tallon wanted to know the authority that compels testimony from an individual not employed by the city.

In the days after Daniel Prude’s family announced the death, Singletary had announced his retirement, then was relieved of command by Mayor Lovely Warren.

Tallon wrote that Celli can advise him once all the subpoenaed information from other sources including Warren has been collected. At that point, they will discuss the former chief’s participation. Tallon wrote that in the meantime, Singletary is preserving documents in his control.

The investigation has been going on for about five weeks. Celli also reported:

  • The week of Oct. 19, his office received a substantial production of documents from the city in response to the subpoenas issued by the City Council. The records produced from the Mayor’s Office, the Law Department, the Rochester Police Department, and the City Council number in the hundreds of thousands and include emails, cell-phone records and documents on city computers. The records were produced in an electronic format that are searchable and sortable.
  • Celli’s office has agreed with Special Counsel for the City, Carrie L. Cohen, on a process for the prompt production of documents that are in the personal possession of individual city officials and employees. Among the records to be produced are relevant records obtained from privately-owned cell phones that were used by city officials and employees for city business.
  • In order for sufficient time to review the documents provided in response to the Council’s subpoenas, all scheduled depositions have been adjourned. New dates will be set after review of the relevant documents produced both by the city and by individuals. It’s anticipated that depositions will begin toward the end of November.