ROCHESTER, N.Y. — Members of the United Christian Leadership Ministry responded Wednesday morning to the announcement that two Rochester police officers were suspended without pay, following accusations of excessive force when arresting 37-year-old Christopher Pate on May 5, 2018.
A police report filed by one of the officers identifies them as Officer Spenser McAvoy and Officer Sippel.
“We want to send a direct message to the police that black people are not animals. You cannot beat up on us and dehumanize us and continue to do so base upon your own racist desires,” said Reverend Lewis Stewart of the United Christian Leadership Ministries.
Pate and his mother sat with UCLM Wednesday. Pate had a swollen eye and is expected to see a surgeon for his injuries. Rochester Police Department Chief Michael Ciminelli said Tuesday that Pate should not have been arrested and the incident was a failure by the police department.
According to the incident report Officer McAvoy filed, his body camera was off in the beginning of the confrontation. He also stated that Christopher Pate’s hair, build and skin color matched a wanted suspect in the area.
The paperwork goes on to say that Pate showed his ID after being asked several times but Officers McAvoy and Sippel continued to follow him.
In Pate’s complaint, he says that his bookbag was ripped off his back and then he was tased and punched in the face while in handcuffs. Pate adds that one of the officers said to him, "If you would have just shown your ID this wouldn’t have happened.”
“I'm broken," said Sandra Pate, Christopher Pate's mother. "I know what I went through and my parents went through and naturally you don’t want your child to go through the same things you go through."
Rev. Stewart is expected to watch the body cam video of the incident Thursday. He is calling for the video to be released to the public.
Stewart is scheduled to meet with District Attorney Sandra Doorley on September 11. The DA’s office will decide whether to pursue criminal charges against the two officers.
“I think it’s become commonplace and the whole community knows that these actions go on but are never reported," said Rev. Stewart. "I think people are looking for change, they’re looking for reform, they want to have justice, and when they see it, they will deal with it in an intelligent manner.”