Officer Michael Sippel will be charged with third-degree assault in the May 5 assault on Christopher Pate. 

Monroe County District Attorney Sandra Doorley announced the single charge Friday afternoon. 

In a statement, Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren calls the grand jury's decision "the first step in the judicial process. We must accept these decisions and allow the criminal justice system to take its course."

The Rochester Police Department issued a statement saying it would be inappropriate to provide comment on the charges against Sippel, given that it’s a pending and ongoing legal matter.

After the indictment was announced, Rochester Police Locust Club President Mike Mazzeo said, "Too often, some in the public see what's going on in this country and I think maybe prejudge actions." Some community members may want a different reaction when, at the end of the day, there needs to be justice, he said. 


“Today’s announcement from Monroe County District Attorney Sandra Doorley that the grand jury has issued charges against an officer involved in the arrest of Christopher Pate is significant,” said Rochester City Council President Loretta C. Scott. “It shows that we are a community that will not tolerate injustice.”
Officer Sippel's attorney, Clark Zimmermann, believes his client's actions during Pate's arrest were justified. 
"He was performing his duties that day consistent with training and consistent with trying to apprehend who he thought was a wanted suspect." 
Zimmerman added that Pate did not cooperate when Officer Sippel approached him for identification. 
"From what we believe, that's what the Rochester Police Department teaches its officers to do," Zimmermann said. "He was totally justified in doing" what he did that day.

Sippel is due in court on November 15.

Officer Spenser McAvoy, the other officer suspended by the police department during the investigation, is not facing charges from the grand jury, Doorley said. 

Both officers testified before a grand jury, in addition to experts for both the prosecution and the defense. 

Officers McAvoy and Sippel were suspended without pay while the RPD conducted an internal investigation of the way they handled the arrest of Christopher Pate on Fulton Avenue in May.

According to Pate's complaint, his backpack was ripped off, he was tased and punched in the face while in handcuffs.

Even though Officer McAvoy was not indicted, his attorney says the case should not have made it this far.

James Nobles says body cam footage of Pate's arrest did not show proof of extreme force.

"Because what you have is an individual who is certainly acting suspicious - refusing to cooperate with officers, struggling with officers and reaching for his center waistband, which is indicative with  somebody having a weapon, who's taken into custody under arrest,” said Nobles. “It happens all the time in Rochester."

Nobles said his next move is to end McAvoy's suspension from the department.

Rochester City Council President Loretta Scott says the officer's indictment is significant.

"It shows that we are a community that will not tolerate injustice,” said Scott. “While I am still incredibly saddened by Mr. Pate’s experience, I am encouraged that the wheels of justice are beginning to move in the right direction.”


Past Coverage:

Then Rochester Police Chief Mike Ciminelli called the arrest, unlawful and the officers' behavior outrageous.