City Council members respond to mayor’s internal investigation into Daniel Prude case

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — On Monday, Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren released a preliminary internal report, put together by her deputy mayor that outlines a timeline of events in the Daniel Prude investigation.

Members of the Rochester City Council say they’re still going through it page by page but provided News10NBC with their initial reactions.

“Many systems let the Prude family down and Daniel down that day, there is some structural system things that we need to look at and change and I believe the Mayor has taken the first step to do that. There are many investigations that have been launched, I think people should be somewhat patient for these investigations, we’ve asked for them to be expedited as quickly as possible,” said Council Vice President Willie Lightfoot.

Councilor-at-large Mitch Gruber agrees.

“Daniel Prude was dehumanized on March 23 and then dehumanized throughout a lot of the process thereafter in regards to how his case was handled and spoken about. I think it calls for a real re-imagining of public safety but right now I think the most important thing for our community to move forward is to really get a full sense of the truth, to get some clarity and to hold people accountable,” he told News10NBC.

That’s why City Council says it’s hiring an outside law firm to conduct its investigation.

"I have the utmost confidence that they’re going to do a phenomenal job of running a truly independent investigation,” Gruber said.

Both Gruber and Lightfoot, who is the chair of the public safety committee, say they never saw the Prude videos or heard about the circumstances surrounding his encounter with police until they saw it on the news a few weeks ago.

“None of these investigations is going to bring this particular gentleman back to us and that’s very unfortunate but what we can do is see how we can fix these systems in such a way where this doesn’t happen to another family,” Lightfoot said.

Currently, the Rochester Police Department will provide body-worn camera video to members of City Council who request it but members say, they had no idea that Prude’s death had been determined to be a homicide, so they wouldn’t have known to even ask for it.

It’s those types of processes that need to be considered when talking about systematic changes.

“There’s a ton of things being talked about and a lot of things happening all at once and I think what’s really needed right now is to start to take a full inventory of all the things being worked on and make sure we have the appropriate mechanisms to start to actually put some changes into practice ASAP,” Gruber said.

In a statement, City Council President Loretta Scott said:

“The City Council has a duty to the citizens of Rochester to ensure that an independent investigation is conducted related to the death of Daniel Prude. Within days of hearing of Mr. Prude’s tragic death, the Council engaged Andrew G. Celli, Jr. of Emery, Celli, Brinkerhoff, Abady, Ward & Maazel LLP, to define the scope of an investigation. City Council, by its very nature, must act as a check and balance to the Administration; it is our duty to the citizens of Rochester to ensure that Mr. Celli and his team have the resources needed to conduct an in depth and wholly independent investigation that will result in a report that the Council will make public. With regard to the report issued by Deputy Mayor James Smith, the Council only learned of this investigation, its contents, and subsequent measures proposed by the Mayor when announced at this afternoon’s press conference. While we appreciate the Mayor’s desire to have the City’s Office of Public Integrity look into this matter, we understand the importance of having a review conducted by a separate branch of Government with independent legal counsel. We will review information related to the Deputy Mayor’s report and findings, and share them with Mr. Celli as part of his investigation.”

Click here for full coverage on the death of Daniel Prude.