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Mayor, police chief respond to previously unreleased body cam video of Pate arrest

July 09, 2019 08:41 PM

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — Mayor Lovely Warren and Police Chief La'Ron Singletary addressed the previously unreleased body camera video of a violent encounter between two officers and a Rochester man.

The City of Rochester released the additional footage Monday showing more of what happened when officers approached Christopher Pate on Bloss Street last May after mistaking him for a wanted suspect. 

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During a news conference Tuesday, both the mayor and police chief reaffirmed their disappointment and disgust with what they saw on the body-worn camera video.

Warren went so far as to say she was hurt by the video and, at one point, became almost speechless in describing her feelings about what she saw.

"There's...no words that I can express besides that I'm sorry that this happened to him..." said Warren. 

The city leaders also said the behavior exhibited by former Rochester Police Officer Michael Sippel and Officer Spenser McAvoy is not reflective of the behavior exhibited by the 700 plus officers who serve the City of Rochester.

Singletary said the footage will be used in future training to show officers what not to do.

The body cam video from May 5, 2018, shows the encounter between Sippel, McAvoy and Pate who was crossing the street when the officers were driving on Bloss Street. McAvoy suggested Pate resembled a wanted criminal. When asked for his ID, he initially refused before showing it to McAvoy. Pate was then thrown to the ground, punched and tased. He suffered broken bones in his face.

The video also shows Pate handcuffed in the back of a police car for several minutes begging for mercy.

"These cuffs hurt...these cuffs hurt, these cuffs hurt..please," he says on the video.

"My family comes from the segregated south," Warren said. "To see a man in this day and age be treated inhumanely was what hurt the most because I know people that were treated like that, and that was back in 1964, and we're talking about 2017, 2018."

Back in May, a judge found Sippel guilty of third-degree assault. He was later fired from the police department as a result of his conviction. McAvoy was not criminally charged. The police department is still conducting its own investigation into McAvoy's actions.

When asked about the timing of the video, Warren said it had been requested and since the criminal case had ended, there was no reason to withhold it.

Monroe County District Attorney Sandra Doorley said the decision to release the footage before Sippel's sentencing later this month is "highly inappropriate." 

“Recently, I learned that the Rochester Police Department, on the advice of the City of Rochester’s attorneys, released the entire body-worn camera footage of the May 5, 2018 incident involving Michael Sippel. Nobody in the District Attorney’s Office was consulted before releasing this footage prior to sentencing on July 25, 2019. I find this decision to be highly inappropriate, as the case remains pending.” 

The mayor said the city’s actions have shown leaders are not running away from this and did take decisive action. 

GRAPHIC VIDEO WARNING: The video below contains images and audio that some viewers may find disturbing. 

WHECTV

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