Former Greece Police Chief Andrew Forsythe faces drunken driving charge
Before he crashed his town-owned Chevy Tahoe on Route 390 and continued driving on three wheels with a trail of sparks in his wake last month, former Greece Police Chief Andrew Forsythe consumed about six alcoholic drinks, according to the Monroe County District Attorney’s Office.
On Monday, Forsythe was charged with misdemeanor drunken driving and a violation of leaving the scene of an accident causing property damage, and three Greece police officers who came to his aid were suspended.
“Due to his voluntary consumption of alcoholic beverages, he was unable to operate his motor vehicle as a reasonable and prudent driver,” Monroe County District Attorney Sandra Doorley said in announcing the charges during a news conference.
Forsythe smashed into a guardrail on Route 390 near the Latona Road overpass at 12:55 a.m. on Oct. 21, about 20 minutes after he left the Hyatt Regency Rochester, where he had attended a fundraiser for the families of fallen police officers the previous evening, Doorley said.
“He caused damage to the guardrail and significant damage to his vehicle,” Dorreley said. “Mr. Forsythe did not stay at the crash, nor did he report the crash as soon as physically able.”
After the crash, Forsythe continued driving northbound on Route 390, despite having lost a tire. Doorley said investigators from her office determined the vehicle had one functioning tire before it became disabled on a side road in Greece.
Still images taken from video surveillance cameras and displayed during the news conference showed a shower of sparks trailing what was believed to be Forsythe’s car as it continued traveling along the highway.
Forsythe resigned as chief a week after the crash, following severe public scorn for his and other Greece officers’ explanation of the incident. Forsythe had explained, as did others in the Greece Police Department, that he had swerved to avoid a deer and that a broken radio in his car had kept him from calling for help immediately.
Doorley said investigators traced Forsythe’s steps in the hours and minutes leading up to the crash through interviews and cameras at the hotel and on the roadways.
Forsythe was found to have arrived at the hotel around 5:50 p.m. and entered the hotel bar at 10:12 p.m., where he stayed until 12:36 a.m. He then got into his car, which he had parked in the public garage at South Avenue, and drove off.
Doorley said investigators figured Forsythe had had about six drinks, including a shot, during his time in the bar. It was not clear how many drinks, if any, Forsythe consumed prior to entering the bar. She categorized his beverages as mixed drinks containing Ketel One vodka.
Forsythe’s vehicle came to rest on North Greece Road, just north of English Road, unable to continue traveling.
“At that time, his vehicle had one functional tire,” Doorley said.
Notable about the route Forsythe traveled before he could go no further was that he drove in the opposite direction of two Greece police stations. Doorley said she believed Forsythe was attempting to get home.
At 1:43 a.m., about 48 minutes after the crash, Forsythe called for help from his police radio, which was operable, and reported that he had struck a deer, Doorley said. His vehicle was towed to the Greece Police Department impound lot and officers took him home.
Doorley said it was not clear why officers did not administer a breath test or other field sobriety test and she recommended that an internal investigation be launched into the incident and the officers involved.
Specifically, she called for the probe to be conducted by an independent interim deputy chief appointed by an outside agency.
In doing so, she pre-empted an announcement by Greece Supervisor Bill Reilich that the town had hired Joseph Morabito, the recently retired deputy chief of operations for the Rochester Police Department, to lead the internal investigation.
At a separate news conference, Reilich announced the indefinite suspensions of three Greece police officers who responded to Forsythe's call for help. They are Deputy Chief Casey Voelkl, Lt. Andrew Potter, and Officer Evan Kaplin.
Doorley also called for changes to the Greece Police Department’s policies, procedures, and general orders. In particular, Doorley recommended that Greece police wear body-worn cameras, something that the department has been resistant to embrace.
“As a community we trust that law enforcement officer are above reproach,” Doorley said. “Mr. Forsythe’s actions are disappointing, dangerous, and have altered the community’s trust in the Greece Police Department.”
Forsythe is scheduled to be arraigned in Greece Town Court on Dec. 9.
David Andreatta is CITY's editor. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
James Brown is a reporter for WXXI News, a media partner of CITY. He can be reached at email@example.com.