A mayor in New York state who shook up her city’s police department after the death of Daniel Prude, a Black man who allegedly suffered from mental health problems,was hit Friday with campaign finance charges that could drive her out of office.
Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren was indicted by a grand jury on charges of scheming to defraud and violating election law by illegally coordinating activities and expenditures, Monroe County District Attorney Sandra Doorley said.
Both charges stem from Warren’s 2017 re-election campaign. She has denied any wrongdoing.
Warren, who did not release a statement after her indictment and whose office did not immediately respond to a request for comment, has an Oct. 5 court date and also faces the possibility of prison time and the loss of her law license if convicted.
The mayor had tried to defuse the city’s anger after Prude's relatives released police video of his arrest in March. The footage showed officers covering the naked and shackled man’s head with a “spit hood” and forcing him down on the asphalt, where he went limp.
Prude, who was 41, died a few days later, two months before George Floyd’s death beneath the knee of a Minneapolis police officer ignited nationwide street protests that continue to this day.
After an internal review of the arrest and its aftermath, Warren apologized to Prude's family, relieved the city's police chief of his duties and suspended the city attorney and her own communications director for 30 days without pay.
"This initial look has shown that we have a pervasive problem in the Rochester Police Department," Warren said at the time. "One that views everything through the eyes of the badge, not the citizens we serve. It shows that Mr. Prude's death was not taken as seriously as it should have been by those who reviewed the case throughout city government and at every level."
Warren said she was asking the U.S. attorney's office to investigate whether Prude's civil rights were violated. And she suspended — with pay — seven officers who were involved in Prude's arrest.
The mayor also moved the city’s crisis intervention team and its budget out of the police department and into the Department of Youth and Recreation Services.
"We had a human being in a need of help, in need of compassion. In that moment, we had an opportunity to protect him, to keep him warm, to bring him to safety, to begin the process of healing him and lifting him up," Warren said. "We have to own the fact that in the moment we did not do that."