District Attorney Faces Calls to Resign After Confrontational Traffic Stop

John Furrier | Last Updated : April 30, 2024

Monroe County, NY – In a stunning display of apparent abuse of power, Sandra Doorley, the district attorney for Monroe County, New York, is facing widespread calls for her resignation after body camera footage captured her angrily refusing to pull over for a police officer and invoking her position in an attempt to avoid consequences.

The incident unfolded last Monday evening in the Rochester suburb of Webster when Officer Cameron Crisafulli noticed Doorley’s SUV traveling at 55 miles per hour in a 35 mph zone. After activating his lights and siren to signal for Doorley to pull over, the district attorney continued driving for nearly half a mile before finally entering the garage of her residence.

What transpired next was a shocking display of entitlement and disrespect from Doorley, the very public official tasked with upholding the law and ensuring justice in Monroe County.

“Sorry, I’m the D.A. I was going 55 coming home from work,” Doorley said angrily as Officer Crisafulli approached her garage. When the officer reminded her of the posted speed limit, Doorley dismissively replied, “I don’t really care.”

The footage, released by the Webster Police Department on Friday, quickly sparked outrage and allegations that Doorley had attempted to use her position to evade accountability for her actions.

As the tense encounter escalated, with Doorley using expletives and vulgar language toward Officer Crisafulli, a supervising officer arrived on the scene and informed the district attorney that her refusal to stop constituted an arrestable offense. Remarkably, Doorley was not arrested, despite her blatant disregard for the law and disrespectful behavior towards the officers.

The release of the body camera footage unleashed a swift and intense backlash, with residents of Rochester and beyond demanding that Doorley face disciplinary action for her conduct.

New York Governor Kathy Hochul wasted no time in addressing the matter, issuing a statement on Sunday in which she reported Doorley to the State Commission on Prosecutorial Conduct. Hochul stated that the footage clearly showed Doorley “claiming she is above the law, attempting to use her public office to evade responsibility and acting unprofessionally towards a police officer simply trying to do his job.”

The governor’s powerful rebuke echoed the sentiments of many who viewed Doorley’s actions as a flagrant abuse of power and a betrayal of the trust placed in her as the county’s top law enforcement official.

“She has undermined her ability to hold others accountable for violating the law,” Hochul said, adding to the growing chorus of voices calling for Doorley’s resignation or removal from office.

Among those demanding accountability for Doorley’s actions is the Rochester-based advocacy group Save Rochester, which has been at the forefront of the Black Lives Matter movement and calls for police reform in the wake of the 2020 death of Daniel Prude, a Black man who died in police custody.

The group has launched a petition seeking Doorley’s removal from office and organized protests in Rochester, where demonstrators argued that the district attorney’s behavior during the traffic stop was a clear example of white privilege.

“This is proof that white privilege reigns supreme in our country, and it’s time for that to come to an end,” Save Rochester wrote in a social media post. “Sandra put countless people’s lives in jeopardy, and she had the nerve to try to use her position to escape justice, meanwhile she prosecutes Black people to the fullest extent of the law.”

The group’s powerful statement highlighted the glaring double standard at play, with Doorley seemingly expecting leniency and deference denied to countless individuals, particularly those from minority communities, who have found themselves on the receiving end of the criminal justice system she oversees.

As the outrage mounted, Doorley attempted to quell the firestorm by issuing a public apology in a video released on Sunday night. “What I did was wrong, no excuses,” she said. “I didn’t treat this officer with the respect that he deserved.”

Doorley attributed her behavior to the stress of dealing with a recent spate of homicides in Rochester, stating, “We all have bad days and stress, and it was wrong for me to take it out on an officer who’s simply doing his job.”

However, for many, Doorley’s apology fell short, with her invocation of stress and “bad days” ringing hollow in the face of her blatant disregard for the law and the authority she herself is entrusted to uphold.

In the video, Doorley pledged to pay the speeding ticket, refer the episode to a district attorney from another county for review, report the case to a grievance committee, and undergo ethics training. However, these promised actions did little to quell the growing calls for her resignation or removal from office.

As the fallout from the incident continues to unfold, the question remains: how can a district attorney who so brazenly flouted the law and disrespected law enforcement maintain the public’s trust and credibly prosecute others for similar offenses?

For many, Doorley’s actions represented a fundamental breach of the principles of fairness, equality, and accountability that are the bedrock of the criminal justice system. Her apparent belief that her position afforded her special treatment and exemption from the very laws she is sworn to uphold has shaken the public’s confidence in her ability to carry out her duties impartially and without bias.

The episode has also reignited broader conversations about the abuse of power, privilege, and the systemic inequities that continue to plague the criminal justice system. As Save Rochester and other advocacy groups have pointed out, the leniency and deference extended to Doorley stands in stark contrast to the harsh treatment often meted out to individuals from marginalized communities, particularly those of color.

In the days and weeks ahead, the pressure on Doorley to step down or face disciplinary action is likely to intensify. Governor Hochul’s referral to the State Commission on Prosecutorial Conduct could potentially lead to sanctions or even Doorley’s removal from office, should the commission find her actions to have violated ethical standards or compromised her ability to serve as an impartial arbiter of justice.

Regardless of the outcome, the incident has cast a long shadow over Doorley’s tenure as district attorney and raised fundamental questions about her fitness to continue serving in a position of such immense power and responsibility.

As the public’s trust in the criminal justice system continues to erode in the wake of high-profile cases of police misconduct and systemic inequities, incidents like Doorley’s traffic stop serve as stark reminders of the work that still needs to be done to restore faith in the principles of equal justice and accountability under the law.

For now, the ball is in Doorley’s court to take meaningful steps to regain the public’s trust and demonstrate a genuine commitment to upholding the very laws she is charged with enforcing. Whether through resignation, disciplinary action, or a renewed dedication to the ideals of justice and fairness, the district attorney must take decisive action to address the damage caused by her actions and chart a path forward that restores integrity and credibility to her office.

John Furrier

John Furrier is a techie with expertise in BlockChain, eCommerce. He has been working on the cutting-edge of technology for over 10 years. His work has earned him recognition as an emerging leader in this field for various magazines. He lives to break new ground and find ways to make things more efficient for his clients. John believes that “Successful people are always looking for creative solutions.”

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