by DARIEN LAMEN
Former Rochester Police Chief La'Ron Singletary has failed to comply with a subpoena issued three weeks ago as part of a special investigation into the City's handling of Daniel Prude's death this spring.
Andrew Celli, the Special Investigator commissioned by Rochester City Council to investigate the matter, said in a public statement Monday that his firm may consider seeking a judicial order to force Singletary to provide documents and testimony.
"Chief Singletary’s refusal to cooperate in the Investigation, while very unfortunate, will not materially impede our progress," the statement reads. "Even as we actively consider remedies for such non-compliance (including, but not limited to, court enforcement), our work will continue, drawing on the many other sources of documentary evidence and testimony that are available to us."
The Special Investigator's subpoena had ordered Singletary to produce documents related to the Daniel Prude case by October 8th.
According to the Special Investigator's office, Singletary is the only former or current public official to "refuse to participate in the investigation."
Back and forth
Celli's public statement Monday comes after a week of back and forth emails with Singletary's lawyer, Michael Tallon. Those emails were provided to the media by Celli's firm Monday.
In a letter dated October 13th, Tallon questions Celli's authority to subpoena "an individual who is not employed by the City of Rochester."
Celli responds by citing Rochester City Charter Section 5-21(g) and the City Council resolution from September authorizing the investigation, adding "neither of which limits the Council’s subpoena power to current City employees."
In a subsequent email, dated October 19th, Tallon implies that City officials may attempt to manipulate the investigation to their own ends, and requests that the special investigation finish taking testimony from City administration before Tallon discusses the possibility of his client cooperating with the investigation.
"I request that after you have concluded gathering and analyzing subpoenaed documents, and, if and when you have concluded the sworn testimony of principals including Mayor Warren, Deputy Mayor Smith, Communications Director Roj, and Corporation Counsel Curtin, that you advise me and we can discuss the production of evidence that Mr. Singletary will preserve and his possible testimony to further your investigative mandate," Tallon writes.
In response, Celli writes, "Your expressions of concern about alleged obstructive or unethical conduct by the current Mayoral Administration in no way justify your client’s refusal to cooperate in the Investigation, which we are conducting independent of the Administration and the Council in all events."
The Special Council Investigator had originally scheduled former Chief Singletary to provide oral testimony next week, on November 6th.
However, all scheduled depositions have been put on hold until after the special investigation has reviewed the subpoenaed documents.
The Special Investigation says it hopes to reschedule and start taking depositions beginning in late November.
DARIEN LAMEN is news director/producer for Reclaiming the Narrative. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.