ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — Local activist group Free the People Roc, The National Lawyers Guild Rochester and 10 individuals have filed a lawsuit against the City of Rochester, Rochester Police Department leadership, and more Monday.
“In the year since RPD officers killed Daniel Prude, an unarmed Black man in the midst of a mental health crisis, the Department has deployed violent, unjustified force in response to peaceful protests to end police brutality; and RPD officers have handcuffed and pepper sprayed a 9-year-old Black girl and fatally shot another Black man having a mental health crisis,” a statement from attorneys said Monday.
The lawsuit aims to “end the [Rochester Police] Department’s years-long, unchecked practice of using unconstitutional excessive force disproportionately against people of color.”
“The lawsuit details over 50 incidents of excessive force and racist ideology within the Department. What appears is a pattern of unconstitutional policing that has been allowed to fester while City and RPD officials remain deliberately indifferent. RPD officers who use excessive force against the people of Rochester face little or no punishment—instead they are often promoted and commended. Officers who have used racial slurs and even officers with admitted ties to groups that espouse white supremacist ideology face little or no consequence.”
There are more than a dozen defendants named in the lawsuit, including:
- Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren
- Former Rochester Police Chief La’Ron Singletary
- Interim Rochester Police Chief Cynthia Herriott-Sullivan
- Henry Favor, RPD Commander of the Special Operations Division
- Ralph Montinarelli, RPD Lieutenant with the Tactical Unit
- Samuel Lucyshyn, RPD Lieutenant
- Randy Potuck, RPD Sgt. assigned to the Mobile Field Force
- RPD officers William Baker, Alexander Elmore, Domenic Borrelli, Matthew Drake, Dakota Vanbrederode, Ethan Paszko, and John Clinkhammer.
- The Rochester Police Department
- City of Rochester
- County of Monroe
- Monroe County Executive Adam Bello
- Monroe County Sheriff Todd Baxter
- Monroe County Sheriff’s Office
- Stephen Dellasala, New York State Trooper
- New York State Police
According to the lawsuit, “plaintiffs demand a trial by jury on each and every claim to which they are legally entitled to a jury.”
“The RPD uses excessive force during routine interactions with citizens in Rochester every day,” said plaintiff Anthony Hall in a press release. “Their instant reaction is to escalate the situation and use force. If you don’t do exactly what they want, they’ll throw you on the ground and pepper-spray you, that’s what they did to the nine-year-old girl and that’s what they did to the mother and her three-year-old.”
When details of Prude’s death first became public in September, it sparked a month long series of protests in the city, often featuring violent clashes between demonstrators and police. In January of this year, Rochester Police Chief Cynthia Herriott-Sullivan announced new protest response policies.