Prude Death Investigation

Closing arguments given in Officer Michael Sippel trial

Local News

On Wednesday, closing arguments were given in the trial of a Rochester police officer accused of assault.

Prosecutors say officer Michael Sippel beat up Christopher Pate while attempting to take Pate into custody. Police say Sippel mistakenly thought Pate was a burglary suspect. 

This trial started last week with the prosecutor saying “No one is above the law”. On Wednesday, both sides echoed that in their closing statements.

“A person may not use physical force to resist an arrest whether authorized or unauthorized,” said defense attorney Clark Zimmermann.

“This isn’t about ID or jaywalking or wanted packages. This is about a man-, the defendant Michael Sippel, who didn’t like Christopher Pate’s attitude,” said assistant district attorney Gina Clark.

The main issue of this case boils down to this: did officer Sippel have the right to approach and arrest Christopher Pate? Sippel’s attorney said he did because Sippel thought he was dealing with a wanted man, James Barrett. The prosecutor referred the judge to the body cam footage- which she said shows Pate isn’t told he’s under arrest until after he hits the ground.

“The video shows Christopher Pate never engaged in any assaultive behavior,” said Clark.

Zimmermann said he believes the body camera footage works in Sippel’s favor.

“The law clearly states that officers are allowed to use physical force to effect an arrest or to prevent the escape from custody or in self-defense.”

Pate testified last week that he showed ID to another officer, and Sippel still followed him.

Sippel’s attorney told us the worst case scenario for his client if found guilty would be losing his job as a Rochester police officer. He said Sippel is nervously awaiting the verdict.

The judge said he hopes to reach a decision soon and will be back in court next Tuesday morning.

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