Rochester PD, NY—Bodycam Release Shows Brute Cop Manhandling Black Man

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Christopher Pate’s arrest, in May Last Year, Sparked an Investigation Leading To Brute Cops Conviction

Rochester Police Department, New York, finally released the complete 55-minutes long body cam video from officers arresting and transporting Christopher Pate. RPD has previously released snippets of this video, which don’t cover the incident in its entirety.

The nearly an hour of body camera video shows the aftermath of Pate’s arrest and beating by a Rochester police officer on May 5, 2018. The video was released this Monday. It was released in response to public records requests from local papers along with other advocacy groups.

Snippets of the video released during former Officer Sippel’s trial do not show the magnitude of abuse apparent in this video. But much of the footage had not been released, including scenes of Pate in the police car and at a hospital after his arrest. Officer Michael Sippel was convicted in late May of misdemeanor assault in the beating of Pate.

The May 2018 confrontation shows that police are categorically inept and ill-equipped to patrol poor neighborhoods.

A visibly frustrated and anguished Pate, his facial bones broken by officer Sippel during the arrest, can be seen pleading to the officers that they have the wrong guy.

“I didn’t do anything,” Pate says in the new video . “I’m not the person you’re looking for.”

Throughout the ride, a bloodied Pate continues to say through tears, his voice quivering as he pleads that he is the victim of mistaken identity, that he apologizes for causing any problems for police, that “I have learned my lesson.”

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“I’m Sorry, I’m Just Afraid of the Police”

A 12-minute section of the video (~28:00 – 40:00) shows Pate being brought to the hospital with RPD officers. The whole section is blurred where Taser barbs are taken out from Pate’s buttocks. For the most part, the video lacks audio in this section as well, yet, you can hear Pate moan and groan with pain.

A pair of officers can be heard laughing as Pate apologizes to them for the altercation.

Christopher Pate

“I told you, you don’t have to apologize. We already forgave you,” one officer says. “You don’t seem like a bad guy. You just made a bad choice today.”

“And I accept full responsibility for it,” Pate responds.

The body cam video also shows officers Sippel and McAvoy chastising Pate as they’re driving him to the hospital. 

“Why would you act like that if you have no reason to? We’re out here looking for bad guys,” he said. “Now you make our whole day have to take care of you now because you want to act the way you did.”

“I’m sorry,” Pate responds. “I’m just afraid of [the] police.”

“That’s just because you’re not cooperative with them,” an officer responds, “and this probably happens a lot.”

Pate continues to apologize as the officers whine about the night they will have to spend on paperwork.

The Downfall of Sippel But Mcavoy Walks Off

Pate’s confrontation with RPD led to a criminal charge against Sippel, who was found guilty in May of third-degree assault, a misdemeanor. Sippel punched Pate in the head during the arrest. Sippel was fired by the RPD after his conviction.

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McAvoy has been suspended with pay since August 2018 and the department’s internal investigation continues.

The body camera video was central to the decision by the city, last year, to suspend McAvoy and Sippel before seeking criminal charges against them.

The District Attorney’s Office last year pursued charges against the two, and a grand jury found sufficient evidence for the prosecution of Sippel, but not McAvoy. 

The May 2018 confrontation shows that police are categorically inept and ill-equipped to patrol poor neighborhoods where many residents are people of color, some activists say.

City police have said that the internal response to the incident — an investigation leading to disciplinary proceedings against McAvoy and Sippel and a criminal charge against Sippel — is evidence that it will try to aggressively weed out problematic officers. But this offers little comfort; we don’t like our resources dedicated to neighborhood policing being used to police these problematic officers.

On May 5, 2018, McAvoy and Sippel mistook Pate for a man who was sought in connection with a burglary.

Fmr. RPD Officer Michael Sippel talking to his attorney during his trial

When approached by McAvoy, Pate, who had not committed any crimes, at first refused to stop or show identification before showing a public assistance card, according to testimony.

McAvoy then stepped away, saying his body cam was disengaged and he wanted to check it. Sippel then approached Pate, and Sippel maintained that he had not seen any identification from Pate who refused to identify himself.

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The questioning led to a tussle between the three, and Sippel punched Pate, who suffered a broken bone in his face. Police charged Pate with resisting arrest and disorderly conduct, alleging that he was jaywalking. During the trial, McAvoy, who filled out the arrest report, said he did not personally witness Pate interfering with traffic. A City Court judge last year dismissed the charges against Pate.

Police Unions, on the other hand, have criticized the decisions to publicly release the whole footage arguing it serves no purpose but to undermine the public’s trust. That’s rich! Considering it’s taken a year for this footage to come after multiple requests. Also, the fact that officers involved in the misconduct have been charged or suspended isn’t of much comfort given the time and resources it took to bring just one “bad apple” the accountability he deserved.

Reverend Lewis Stewart, leader of the United Christian Leadership Ministry in Rochester has been following the incident and says he urged the city to release the video to the public months ago. Describing moments leading up to the arrest, Rev. Stewart said, “No man — white, black or whoever — wants to feel humiliated like that. He is emasculated.”

“It looks poorly on those officers because you could see Christopher Pate was clearly in the right and was a victim of police misconduct and brutality,” Rev. Stewart said.

You can see the complete video here. I realize it’s a long one but you’ll see how Pate’s arrest was bungled from the start; from the time he was violently subdued in the street, to being mocked en route to the hospital.

Sippel is now scheduled to be sentenced on Thursday, July 25 at 2 p.m. We’ll see how that goes…

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3 Comments

  1. This man needs to be compensated for the incompetance of all the officers that allowed this injustice. Both McAvoy and Sippel need to be fired, fined, and never allowed to work in law enforcement or any position of power ever again. They need to be made an example of for all the other officers that were there.

  2. The people giving the apology are those two Police Officers.
    Firstly, I feel the Police acted unprofessionally and with excessive force.
    It is obvious this man is in pain, distressed and obviously dreading what is going to happen next, considering they’ve told him he’s going to jail.
    Both of the Officers should be dismissed and serve time.
    How many Officers and Police Cars were required? They were annoyed about the paperwork, what about all the other vehicles paperwork too?
    Totally disgraceful waste of Police time caused by the Officers themselves.
    Such a disgrace to their Profession.

  3. Being an ass hole and being uncooperative, is that a felony or a misdemeanor? How is justified to bloody the man’s face and tase him?

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