City Leaders React to Accusations Against Officer
Monroe County District Attorney Sandra Doorley is standing up for a RPD officer accused of lying about steps taken during the arrest of a man suspected of dealing drugs. It's a story that has many city officials responding to the officer's actions and to a separate lawsuit also filed against him.
It's a case that calls into question how two officers with the Rochester Police Department did their job.
"Specific questions have been raised about the integrity of our officers, and as Chief of Police, I want the Rochester community to know that I take this very seriously,” said Chief James Sheppard.
In August, Monroe County Court Judge Doug Randall threw out evidence recovered in March from a Roxborough Road home. According to court documents, Officer Ryan Hartley testified to a grand jury that he waited to enter Christopher Charles McNair's home until he obtained a search warrant. Randall ruled the search as unconstitutional.
"Anytime that there's allegations against an officer, it does tend to impact the entire police department. I think that's why it is important to us to conduct a fair and impartial, complete internal, and reach our conclusions and deal with our consequences,” Sheppard said.
Friday, District Attorney Sandra Doorley responded to Randall's decision, saying she respectfully disagreed with it. She said: "Officer Hartley's testimony was in fact an honest and accurate reporting of events of March 14, 2012 from his perspective." She also said, "it is truly regrettable that Officer Hartley's integrity or honesty was called into question regarding this matter."
"I reserve judgment on this stuff. I think in fairness to everybody we should let the process work itself out. I have seen us in a couple of cases sort of jump to the public conclusion and be wrong about it,” said Tom Richards, (D), Rochester mayor.
This isn't the first case that questions the integrity of Officer Hartley.
"At least four or five judges throughout the years that have tossed cases out because they didn't believe the testimony of these officers,” said John Parrinello, attorney.
Parrinello, on behalf of his client, Jeramie Barideaux, filed a lawsuit against Hartley, Officer Rob Osipovitch, and the City of Rochester, accusing the officers of lying in a police report about a traffic stop on Conkey Avenue and Avenue D last year. According to a criminal report written by the officers, Barideaux was pulled over after they observed his car roll pass a stop sign and into a crosswalk before coming to a stop.
"That's an outright lie,” Parrinello said.
Surveillance video shows Barideaux's car stopping just before the stop sign. After he pulls off, two RPD squad cars make a U-turn and pull him over. The officers searched the car, found drugs and a gun and arrested Barideaux and his passenger.
"Nothing can justify racial profiling for any reason whatsoever. The end does not justify the means number one,” Parrinello said.
A judge dropped the charges because there was no valid reason for the initial stop that led to the search of the vehicle.
Parrinello says even after being offered a $20,000 settlement from the City, his client is suing for $300,000 for spending nearly four months in jail.
Meanwhile, Hartley and Osipovitch are assigned to administrative duties pending the outcome of an internal investigation.
"At the conclusion of our review, we will discuss with the Rochester Police Locust Club releasing our findings to the community,” Sheppard said.