From [HERE] The Black man at the center of an incident of alleged brutality testified that he crossed the street to avoid police because he "was afraid."
Christopher Pate, who suffered a broken bone in his face when police arrested him on May 5, 2018, in a case of mistaken identity, testified against suspended Rochester Police Officer Michael Sippel Friday.
"I was afraid," Pate said. "Police are intimidating and scary."
And it was that mindset, he said, that led him to cross Bloss Street before he was confronted by Sippel and his partner, Officer Spenser McAvoy.
Sippel is charged with third-degree assault, a misdemeanor, and his trial is being heard by City Court Judge Thomas Rainbow Morse. Morse will determine Sippel's innocence or guilt, not a jury.
None of the cops involved dispute that police wrongly identified Pate as a criminal suspect for whom police were searching. But Morse is trying to determine if police properly approached Pate and then were justified in how they restrained, Tased, handcuffed and arrested him.
On Thursday, Sippel's partner at the time of the arrest, McAvoy, testified about the incident. McAvoy's testimony began Wednesday and continued throughout the court's session Thursday.
McAvoy testified he left his car and Pate crossed the street. Pate said he was afraid and was trying to avoid police. McAvoy asked Pate for his identification and Pate said he presented his electronic benefit transfer (EBT) card.
During his testimony, Pate recalled his activities that day. He went to Embrace Recover, a group that focuses on helping people deal with addiction, at 649 Jefferson Ave. in Rochester during the morning to volunteer.
Pate said he took a bus to a store on Clifford Avenue to get his phone updated and then rode another bus to a corner store on Lyell Avenue to purchase cigarettes. He said he was on his way to another volunteering opportunity, when he took the scenic route, and was ultimately confronted by Sippel and McAvoy on Bloss Street.
Pate said he was taken to the ground, tased without warning and hit on the left side of the face “more than once” after crossing the street due to his fear of the police officers.
Defense says Pate suffered facial damage during fall
Prosecutors allege that Sippel assaulted Pate by punching him. McAvoy said he did not see Sippel hit Pate. Sippel's defense attorney, Clark Zimmermann, has said that Pate suffered the facial injury in the fall to the sidewalk.
The officers charged Pate with resisting arrest and disorderly conduct, alleging that he impeded traffic when he crossed the street when first approached by McAvoy. McAvoy acknowledged Wednesday that, even though he filled out the arrest report alleging the crimes, he did not personally witness Pate interfere with traffic. [Yes, that’s called impeachment. Lying about the basis for a stop and arrest. If he lies one time will the jurors believe anything else he says? If there was a 1 fruit fly in your soup, would you remove it and eat the rest?}
A City Court judge dismissed the charges against Pate.
Assistant District Attorney Gina Clark questioned Pate. She asked him about the pain he felt in his face, how his vision was impacted, and how long he spent in the back of the unmarked police car before being taken to Rochester General Hospital for treatment.
Dr. Matthew Battaglia, an emergency department doctor at Rochester Regional Health, was the first to testify Friday. Battaglia testified about his treatment of Pate and the injuries Pate suffered, including a broken left lower orbital bone.
Battaglia said he removed Taser prongs from Pate's back and had to cut through four layers of clothing to get to the impacted area. Battaglia said there were no injuries to the right side of Pate's face.
The doctor added that the injuries were consistent with direct blunt force trauma. Since he didn't witness the incident, Battaglia said he couldn't testify to what caused the injuries.
Zimmerman sought to question Pate's credibility during the cross-examination. Zimmerman had Pate review portions of his grand jury testimony from last October in an effort to potentially show how Pate's story has changed.
Zimmermann asked Pate, "Do you know what it means to be afraid?" Pate repeatedly said that he didn't understand the question. But Morse reminded Pate that he admitted to being afraid just 90 minutes before in his earlier testimony.
Zimmermann tried to establish that Pate's story has changed and the only accurate depiction of the incident came from body-worn camera footage.
"I think there was a clear misunderstanding here," Zimmermann said. "I hope it became evident that Mr. Pate was afraid for whatever reason, not through any actions of those officers on that day."
“I’ve talked about miscommunication in the past, not between the two officers, but Mr. Pate and the two officers. Frankly, had he just stopped and said, ‘I’m Christopher Pate, this could’ve all been avoided,’” said Clark Zimmermann, defense attorney. [Translation. NGHR we can stop you whenever we want and you must OBEY us.]