RPD: No timetable set for response to departmental charges filed against officer in Prude case

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC)— As one of its officers faces internal charges in connection to the death of Daniel Prude, the Rochester Police Department told News10NBC it "does not" have a set timetable to respond to the news.

As we previously reported, the department Thursday night announced departmental charges Mark Vaughn, one of the Rochester Police officers involved in handcuffing Daniel Prude on March 23, 2020, saying that Vaughn is entitled to due process to defend himself against the charges.

Vaughn was served with the charges after a special outside attorney, Langston McFadden, dubbed a "conflict counsel" engaged by the city looked over all the investigations and determined there’s enough evidence to warrant a further look at possible disciplinary action against the officer.

A department spokesman Friday said Police Chief Cynthia Herriott-Sullivan is "working on all of the questions" that came in following the announcement.

"We will let you know as soon as we can," the spokesperson said.

The exact charges Vaughn is facing have not yet been publicly announced, though spokesman for Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren Justin Roj told News10NBC Investigative Reporter Jennifer Lewke, the most severe charge could include termination of his job.

Warren released the following statement Friday morning:

“Our community has suffered greatly from the tragic death of Daniel Prude. However, I hope that the work we’ve done creating Person In Crisis Teams, changing RPD policies and procedures, fully funding the PAB, and training more police officers in de-escalation techniques ensures that, going forward, we always respond to those in need with compassion and humanity.”

The title for the statement read as "Statement from Mayor Lovely Warren regarding the decision to pursue the termination of Officer Vaughn for his role in the death of Daniel Prude" Roj clarified "termination" was mentioned in error and meant to say "pursue charges" against Vaughn.

The New York Civil Liberties Union’s Genesee Valley Regional Director Iman Abid released the following statement Friday afternoon:

“The Rochester Police Department took Daniel Prude’s life while he was in crisis. He deserved services and supports, not for his life to end. The City of Rochester subsequently withheld body camera footage and the RPD subjected residents peacefully protesting Prude’s murder and calling for systemic change to abuse.

“Now, eighteen months later, the RPD will hold one of seven officers accountable for taking the life of an individual in crisis. This is impunity, not justice.

“We will not stop fighting for justice in Daniel Prude’s memory to protect others from being killed by police because they experience a mental health crisis.”

In March of 2020 police took Prude in on a mental health call, as they held him down, he stopped breathing. He was declared dead in the hospital a week later. Disturbing body camera video of police, including Vaughn, showed officers taking Prude into custody, and specifically, pinning his head down. That footage was not released until September of 2020, sparking outrage in the city.

Seven officers, including Vaughn, were put on paid leave over the case and then-police Chief La’Ron Singletary was fired, but the city’s Office of Public Integrity found no violations of policies and the state attorney general couldn’t get any criminal indictments from a grand jury.

An investigation by New York State Attorney General Letitia James found no cause for any criminal charges, but for Vaughn, this is an employment proceeding.

As of Friday morning, the other Prude-related officers were still suspended with pay. Roj told News10NBC Chief Investigative Reporter Berkeley Brean it is up to the RPD to file paperwork with the city’s human resources department to bring the officers back on duty.