Rochester: White Power in Covering up a Death

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Lt. Michael L. Perkowski, racist
Photo courtesy of The Davy V. Blog

Lt. Michael L. Perkowski is a racist.  

Days after the killing of George Floyd, he pushed Police Chief La’Ron Singletary to hide video of Daniel Prude being killed by police in Rochester, New York, on March 23, 2020.

“We certainly do not want people to misinterpret the officers’ actions and conflate this incident with any recent killings of unarmed Black men by law enforcement nationally,” he wrote in an email to Singletary. “That would simply be a false narrative, and could create animosity and potentially violent blowback in this community as a result.”

His advice was clear: Don’t release the body camera footage to the Prude family’s lawyer. The police chief replied minutes later: “I totally agree.”

Perkowski sent an email with the same point to Stephanie A. Prince, a white attorney for the City of Rochester:  “I am very concerned about releasing this prematurely in light of what is going on in Rochester and around the country. I may be overthinking, but would think the chief’s office and the mayor’s office would want a heads-up before this goes out,” report Michael Wilson and Edgar Sandoval in their front-page article in the NY Times today.

Mark Simmons, the department’s deputy chief and a Black man, sent a similar email to Singletary.

The Associated Press reports: 

Deputy Chief Mark Simmons cited the “current climate” in the city and the nation in a June 4 email advising then-Chief La’ron Singletary to press the city’s lawyers to deny a Prude family lawyer’s public records request for the footage of the March 23 encounter that led to his death.

The video, finally made public by Prude’s family on Sept. 4, shows Prude handcuffed and naked with a spit hood over his head as an officer pushes his face against the ground, while another officer presses a knee to his back. The officers held him down for about two minutes until he stopped breathing. He was taken off life support a week later.

“We certainly do not want people to misinterpret the officers’ actions and conflate this incident with any recent killings of unarmed black men by law enforcement nationally,” Simmons wrote. “That would simply be a false narrative, and could create animosity and potentially violent blow back in this community as a result.”

Simmons sent both his email and a similar one from Capt. Frank Umbrino to Singleton, who consulted city attorney Prince.  She suggested “They could stall the general release of videos by allowing a lawyer for the Prude family to view them… but not be permitted to keep his own copies,” according to the NY Times.

In short, we have two white police officers (Perkowski and Umbrino) and one Black officer (Simmons) and one white lawyer (Prince) urging the black police police chief (Singleton) to continue the cover-up of police killing an unarmed black man having a mental crisis in March.

There was a lot of pressure on Chief Singleton.  He couldn’t stand up to it.  The culture of this police department is to protect officers and cover-up mistakes or wrong-doing.

In a blog post on August 2, 2016, Davy Vara, an “activist, filmmaker, photographer, writer, blogger” calls the Rochester PD’s body-cam program a “sham” for three reasons:

1) First of all, out of the 6 RPD sections, only one, the Clinton section, will wear body-cams.

2) So, like I’ve said for years, cops can, and will, be able to turn off any video recording at any time, AT THEIR DISCRETION.

3) But perhaps the most telling part that the Rochester, NY Police Department’s body-cam program is a sham and that the last thing the RPD is interested in is transparency, is Lt. Perkowski’s answer when asked if citizens will be able to review body-cam video footage.

“We’re kind of looking at that by a case by case basis,” Lt. Perkowski said. “For now, until we have more video come in and more real-life scenarios, so for now, we are sticking with our FOIL (Freedom of Infornation Law) process. They would go to the City of Rochester and FOIL the video and we would look at their application and see if it was something we could give out, or not.”

In the case of killing Daniel Prude, the department decided to delay releasing the camera footage as long as possible.

Bottom line:  the Rochester PD was a mess waiting to explode.  Black men (and women?) hired there understood they had to join and protect the department’s culture.

Singleton did that.  And now he’s fired, while Mark Simmons–one of the liars–has been promoted to acting police chief.

Wilson and Sandoval close their NYT article with these words:

Mr. Simmons, the deputy chief who urged the videos not be released, was demoted to a lieutenant last week. The demotion did not last long: On Monday, he was named acting police chief.

My heart aches for Daniel Prude, his family, and all police officers who are pushed to participate in covering up the murder of a Black man.  

It only takes one person to stand up and speak out.  

Resources on the corruption of the Rochester PD from Davy Vara:

Rochester NY Police Department Exposed!

Breaking Down the Rochester NY PD’s Body-Cam Program Sham

DavyV TV – YouTube




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