The documents also include other examples of police and city officials trying to control stories surrounding the death of a detainee in custody.
A Brut family lawyer’s request for body camera footage set the stage for an attempt to slow the release of the tape by city and police officers, showing officers kneeling and restraining Brut.
Elliott Shields, a lawyer detained by Brut’s brother, filed a Freedom of Information Act on April 3 for the footage. These scenes were not released until August 12th.
Documents show that following that email, city attorneys spoke with Rochester police officers and a lawyer at the New York Attorney General’s Office in an attempt to deny or delay the request.
“I wonder if we should stop this for a while considering what is happening across the country,” a police officer wrote in an June 4 email to the city prosecutor. Among those involved in the conversation were then-Chief La’ron Singletary and current Executive Chairman Mark Simmons.
“We certainly do not want people to misunderstand the actions of the authorities and to link this incident to the recent killing of unarmed blacks by law enforcement nationwide,” Simmons wrote. “We request you to approach the Corporation Council and dismiss the request on the basis of the fact that the case is still pending, as criminal charges are currently being investigated by the AG’s office.”
“I totally agree,” Singletari replied.
Proud stopped breathing and was pronounced brain dead at a hospital where he died a week later, on March 30.
The Monroe County medical examiner eventually ruled that Pruden’s death was a homicide, citing respiratory problems in setting the body control. The report also cites impulsive dizziness and severe PCB intoxication as immediate causes of death.
“This initial look has shown that many suspect that we have a widespread problem in the Rochester Police Department,” Warren said in a news release. “Looking at everything through Badge’s eyes, it’s not the citizens we serve. It shows that Mr. Brutin’s death was not taken as seriously as it should have been by those who reviewed the case throughout the city government at every level.”
In a statement announcing his retirement last week, Singletari said the public had been misinformed about what he had done.
“Members of the Rochester Police Department and the Greater Rochester Community know my reputation and I know what I stand for,” Singletari said. “The misinterpretation and politicization of the actions I took after the announcement of Mr. Brutin’s death is not based on facts, nor do I mean anything.”
Last week, Proud’s sister Singletary sued 13 other officers and upstate New York City in federal court, claiming part of it was covering up the death. Neither Singletari nor the city responded to requests for comment on the case.
Acting Chairman Simmons did not respond to a request for comment from CNN on Wednesday.
New York’s Freedom of Information Act allows government agencies to withhold documents when they interfere with ongoing investigations or compromise confidential information.
Shields, the family attorney, was able to see police footage in the attorney general’s office in mid-July, but a copy was not provided.
In a June 3 email between Rochester Police Lieutenant Michael Berkowski and Rochester City Attorney Stephanie Price, Berkowski, A.G. A lawyer in the office said “plaintiff’s lawyer can help by allowing the body to see the camera footage without being released.” Please purchase some more time before releasing this. “
On Wednesday, New York Attorney General Lydia James’ office released a statement defending CNN’s office.
“At no time during this investigation did any member of the Attorney General’s Office instruct the City of Rochester or the Rochester Police Department to withhold information about any, period.
“For weeks, the city and the police department have been engaged in a deeply complicated and misleading campaign in an attempt to cover up their tracks and accountability, rather than focusing on the actual barrier.
In addition, the documents show at least two instances where changes were made in the reports regarding the incident that led to Prudin’s death.
Two incident reports filed by police officers appear to have been edited in red pencil in documents released by the city. It is not clear who made these handwritten notes or when they were actually made. In an incident report filed by Officer Mark Vaughn, among several corrections, some brilliant, Prude’s name was written in the place labeled “Victim.”
Brute’s name circled in red, next to a large, handwritten note: “Make him a suspect.”
A similar note was added to the report of Officer Paul Ricotta, who responded to a robbery alarm at 3:10 p.m.
“List as Daniel Proud [Suspect], “It reads in red pencil.” Add Robbery – Video recorded during daytime shows [suspect] Break the window and enter the location. “
The body game footage of Proud being arrested may include officers speculating that Proud (described as “Mr. PCB”) may be the broken window in the T-Mobile store. The original report listed the suspect as “unknown.”
Rochester Police Union President Mike Massio told CNN on Wednesday that he did not know who wrote the handwritten revisions to the police reports, but that it was standard practice to make corrections to the statements before they were finalized. He pointed out that the statements in question did not have the signature of the supervisor.
A follow-up report on the incident from Rochester’s Major Crimes Unit states that “several reports have been rejected for correction”, but did not clarify any reports or any corrections.
Try to talk to the medical examiner’s office
Further, the documents reveal an email exchange following Proud’s death at Strong Memorial Hospital in which Lieutenant Bergovsky attempted to speak with the medical examiner’s office prior to Proud’s autopsy.
“I imagine your office will do an autopsy,” Berkowski wrote on March 31 to Julie Lutek, a secret assistant to the Monroe County Medical Examiner. “Can you and I talk before you start it?”
“It was somewhat sensitive because he was in police custody when it was sent to the hospital,” Berkowski continued. “I was on the scene. I have all the details for you.”
Lutek, in response, asked for relevant incident reports, which Bergovsky said were on their way. He then volunteered to meet with a medical examiner again claiming to have “background information”. Responding to this, Lutek said he would call Berkowski.
The Monroe County Medical Examiner eventually ruled that Brut’s death was a homicide. CNN has come to the Medical Examiner’s Office to comment.
Massio, the police union leader, said it was a constant connection.
“A medical examiner should have information and set a lot of information based on what happened,” he said.
“I do not see any of these emails until they are published. But I tell you that the medical examiner should always work hand in hand with the ME office in any murder or any investigation into major crimes of that kind.”
Massio said the union would provide representation to officials involved in the case and plans to announce the names of those lawyers as soon as possible on Friday.
He also admitted wrongdoing between the police and the city leadership.
“I’m shocked, I have no reason why they handled this. Obviously the Chancellor has paid the price for it, but I believe there are many fall guys here. We do not really get to the root of the problem,” he said.
“Why do any of us want to live the things we are living in now? You know, public trust is important. However, in police work it is very difficult. Why make stupid mistakes or handle things like this. The leadership should be questioned about this.”
CNN’s Eric Levanson contributed to the report.
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