City of Rochester releases body-cam video of police assault

Jul 9, 2019

Credit Rochester Police Department

The City of Rochester released a graphic police body-cam video that shows a Rochester police officer assaulting a man last year.

Officer Michael Sippel was found guilty of assaulting Christopher Pate in May after wrongfully arresting Pate for burglary. The nearly hour-long video shows the encounter. Police Chief LaRon Singletary called the conduct in the video is embarrassing. Sippel punched a handcuffed Pate in the face and body breaking a bone in his face. 

“Certainly we don’t want what occurred to happen ever again,” Singletary said. “It was embarrassing - the conduct of the officers.”

Singletary called the conduct on the video embarrassing but not the norm.

“We’re not minimizing what occurred with those other officers,” said Singletary. “It’s loud and clear. That’s why we’re here, we’re addressing it, we’re not running from it. But it’s important to also note that the conduct that was exhibited is not reflective of the rest of the men and women who work for the Rochester Police Department.”

Mayor Lovely Warren says that the city’s lawyers encouraged the city to withhold the footage until after the trial, a decision which Monroe County District Attorney Sandra Doorley, who is running for re-election this year, called highly inappropriate

“Nobody in the District Attorney’s Office was consulted before releasing this footage prior to sentencing on July 25, 2019,” Doorley said in a statement Tuesday. “I find this decision to be highly inappropriate, as the case remains pending.”

Singletary says in releasing the video, the city followed the law. 

“Every opportunity we’ve had to release body worn camera video we I think we have done so with respect to the law, with respect to the court process, with respect to criminal justice process so we will continue to transparent throughout,” said Singletary. 

Sippel is scheduled to be sentenced later this month.