Top county official was concerned about RPD officers in 2011
Updated: Friday, July 12 2013, 10:16 PM EDT
Rochester, N.Y. --- Two Rochester Police Officers accused of lying in police reports are named in a lawsuit that also includes the RPD and the City of Rochester. Now 13WHAM News has obtained an email from Monroe County Public Defender Tim Donaher that specifically names those officers, and expresses his concerns to the City’s Law Department.
The case deals with a July 2011 drug investigation and car stop where Officers Ryan Hartley and Rob Osipovitch stated in police reports (attached) that defendant Jeramie Barideaux rolled through a stop sign. That initiated a traffic stop and Officers Hartley and Osipovitch recovered drugs and a handgun during a search of Barideaux’s vehicle.
Video from a traffic camera disputed Hartley and Osipovitch’s contention that the vehicle “rolled” through the stop sign and NY State Supreme Court Justice Daniel Doyle dismissed all charges and released Barideaux from jail.
On December 19, 2011, the day the charges against Barideaux were dropped, Public Defender Tim Donaher emailed the City of Rochester’s law department.
He states at one point, “I believe that there is reasonable cause to believe that the officers (RPD Ofc. Osipovitch and Ofc. Hartley) falsified their police reports and maybe perjured themselves at GJ.” (GJ = Grand Jury)
Donaher goes on to write, “I do not make these accusations lightly, but given the video evidence I cannot reconcile what is contained in the police reports with what the video evidence shows. Either two officers falsely claimed to see something they did not see (and relied instead upon the false report of another officer), or all three officers lied in their reports as to what actually occurred.”
The email (attached) was provided to 13WHAM News by lawyer John Parrinello, who is now representing Barideaux on the civil action against Hartley, Osipovitch, the RPD, and the City. 13WHAM News was able to independently authenticate the email provided.
Monroe County Public Defender Tim Donaher refused to comment for this report.
Mayor Richards Weighs In
On Monday 13WHAM News reported that Officer Hartley’s testimony and involvement in a “warrantless” and “unconstitutional”search of a man’s Roxborough Road home came under scrutiny in a decision by Monroe County Court Judge Doug Randall. Drugs and cash were found in that home (- click here for more details on that report and case.)
Tuesday morning Rochester Mayor Tom Richards offered a few comments on that 13WHAM News Investigation, while also conceding that he was only finding out himself about some of the particulars in this case.
"There is obviously enough of a potential problem here that it needs to be investigated and we will. I spoke to the Chief now this morning and he's going to initiate that,” Mayor Richards said. "I'm disappointed to hear it. We'll look into it and find out whether there's something in here that shouldn't have happened and if that turns out to be the case, they'll be a consequence.”
Mayor Richards was also asked why he and his police chief were only made aware of Judge Randall’s August 9th decision this week through 13WHAM News media inquiries and reports.
"I don't know what happened there quite frankly and I don't want to draw a conclusion about that until I know what happened. But it's a reasonable question and we'll have to get an answer to it," Richards responded.
He also said the community as a whole should not jump to conclusions nor draw larger conclusions about these officers, or the department as a whole based on a few isolated cases.
“We need to remember the here environment in which these men and women are operating in. They're in a difficult environment. They're dealing with people who are dangerous, who can hurt them and are committed to doing so,” Richards explained. “I'm not going to jump to conclusions about them nor am I going to jump to conclusions about the police department but as in any organization if something went wrong or if somebody didn't abide by the regulations or rules or act appropriately, we'll deal with it.”
Chief Sheppard Issues Statement
At 6 p.m. Tuesday Rochester Police Chief James Sheppard issued the following statement that acknowledges his decision to remove Officer Ryan Hartley from patrol duties while a thorough review of the case is conducted.
"Since becoming aware of a Decision and Order issued by a Monroe County Court Judge in the case of People v. Christopher Charles McNair, the Rochester Police Department (RPD) will conduct a thorough and impartial review of the investigation, arrest, and subsequent prosecution in that case. If this review determines there has been any violation of RPD rules, regulations, or policies by RPD personnel, appropriate action will be taken at that time. In the meantime, Officer Ryan Hartley is working in an assignment that does not involve patrol duties."