Rochester police officer facing assault charge in police brutality case

Local News

A grand jury has brought a misdemeanor charge against one of the officers accused of police brutality against an innocent man.

Officer Michael Sippel is charged with assault in the third degree for the attack. Doorley says no other charges have been handed up by the grand jury, meaning the other officer involved won’t be charged.

During a news conference in August, Mayor Lovely Warren said the victim, Christopher Pate, suffered fractures to his jaw and skull during the attack. The two officers involved were suspended without pay following the incident.

Pate was arrested on May 5 for resisting arrest and disorderly conduct. In August, Rochester police said Pate was pulled over on Fulton Avenue when officers believed he was a wanted man. Pate provided documents proving his identity, but police say the officers persisted.

Charges against Pate were later dropped during a follow-up court appearance.

Doorley says, after requests from community leader Reverend Lewis Stewart and the police department, her office reviewed body camera footage of the incident and brought the case to a grand jury who handed up the charges Friday.

While the allegations against the officer are shocking, 

“I’ve been on this job for 28 years,” 

Speaking in response to the decision, Reverend Lewis Stewart said he believes this is the first time a Rochester police officer has been indicted in a case of brutality. However, while he says this is a step towards accountability, he believes the second officer should have been charged. He also believes the officers should have faced a felony charge of assault — not a misdemeanor.

“In my opinion, both should have been indicted with a felony assault,” Rev. Stewart said. “It was not enough; justice was not served.”

In a statement, the Rochester Police Department wrote:

The Rochester Police Department is aware of the Grand Jury’s decision involving two of our members.  Due to this case being a pending matter before the court, and out of respect for the judicial process and our own internal investigation, it would be inappropriate to provide any further comment regarding this event.

The Men and Women of the RPD will continue to serve the citizens of Rochester with the highest level of service, respect, and professionalism.

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