Doorley says she is ‘fully to blame’ for her traffic-stop conduct

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Faced with mounting criticism and calls for investigation, Monroe County District Attorney Sandra Doorley today released a video apology for her conduct toward a Webster police officer who attempted to stop her for a speeding violation.

“Last Monday I failed you and the standards that I hold myself to, and for that I am so sorry,” Doorley says in the nearly two-minute video. “What I did was wrong, no excuses. I take full responsibility for my actions.”

The interaction went public with the release of footage from the officer’s body worn camera.

The officer had spotted Doorley driving 55 mph in a 35-mph zone at 6 p.m. on Phillips Road in Webster. When he put on his lights and siren, she failed to stop, continuing to her home less than a mile away, where the interaction took place inside her garage.

In the footage, Doorley acknowledges she was driving 55 mph but says, “This is ridiculous.” A moment later, she adds: “I understand the law better than you. … Get out of my f—ing house.”

Several times, the officer says he doesn’t understand the hostility toward him. “I’m just doing my job.”

“You’re being an asshole,” Doorley says.

“How am I being an asshole?”

“I am the DA of Monroe County.”

“That doesn’t give you the right to go 55 in a 35,” he counters. “And you even admitted to me you went 55.”

She waves her badge in front of him and says, “I don’t really care. You know what, if you give me a traffic ticket, that’s fine. I’m the one who prosecutes it.”

Doorley continues: “You know what I’ve been dealing with all day? Three murders in the city. And do you think I really care if I was going 20 miles over the speed limit?”

On Thursday, Doorley issued a statement that, in part, read: “I believe in responsibility for my actions and have no intention of using my position to receive a benefit. Nobody, including your District Attorney, is above the law, including traffic laws.”

However, that did little to quell reactions to the incident. On Saturday, five members of the County Legislature wrote to Gov. Kathy Hochul and Attorney General Letitia James asking for an inquiry. All nine members of the Rochester City Council wrote a similar letter to James.

“The behavior exhibited by Ms. Doorley during the traffic stop, as captured in the body camera footage, … undermines the credibility and integrity of our justice system and erodes public trust,” the Council members’ letter states.

Today, Hochul said in a statement that she had referred Doorley to the state Commission on Prosecutorial Conduct. The move, she said, came after “the release of police bodycam footage showing her 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.”

Hochul, James and local elected officials calling for an investigation—including five members of the area’s state Legislature delegation—are all Democrats. First elected district attorney as a Democrat, Dooley switched her affiliation to Republican in 2015.

Local GOP leaders voiced strong support for Doorley and criticized the Democrats who want an investigation of the incident.

Steve Brew, Republican conference leader in the county Legislature, said “we will not allow a moment of clearly expressed regret to overshadow decades of dedication to our community, law enforcement and the rule of law—the Republican Conference continues to support our District Attorney Sandra Doorley. … If Democrats in this County were as outspoken about carjackings, robberies, and murders as they are now about a traffic stop, perhaps we’d all be in a better and safer place.”

The statement from Monroe County Republican chairman Patrick Reilly was even more strongly worded. He said he had reviewed the body-worn camera footage, for which Doorley has “wholeheartedly apologized,” and also “watched several decades of (Doorley) fighting for victims, safeguarding our community, standing beside and for our members of law enforcement and defending the rule of law—even at times when she was the only one. Democrats who now pretend to care about law enforcement, including some who have been criminally investigated themselves, have no credibility to speak on this matter.”

Added Reilly: “Let’s not pretend the same party that allows their constituents to be shot, robbed and murdered on a daily basis cares about the rule of law in this County. Nobody is perfect, and everyone has a bad day—District Attorney Doorley has atoned, should not, and will not be going anywhere…”

In her video apology, Doorley said, “I was dealing with three homicides that occurred over the weekend. I watched a video where an innocent cab driver was executed and I was still reeling from a frightening medical concern that my husband received that afternoon. But we all have bad days and stress, and it was wrong for me to take it out on any officer who is simply doing his job.”

Doorley said she has pleaded guilty to the speeding ticket and will pay the fine. In addition, she said she has referred the matter to “a district attorney from another county for review and will fully cooperate with that investigation.” Doorley also plans to self-report this incident to a state court grievance committee and will cooperate with its investigation. And she will take ethics training to “remind myself that professionalism matters.”

“I have been humbled by my own stupidity and I am fully to blame,” Doorley says at the end of the video. “I will make this right; I ask for your forgiveness.”

Paul Ericson is Rochester Beacon executive editor. The Beacon welcomes comments and letters from readers who adhere to our comment policy including use of their full, real name. Submissions to the Letters page should be sent to [email protected]

15 thoughts on “Doorley says she is ‘fully to blame’ for her traffic-stop conduct

  1. It’s about priorities. Elected officials have a finite amount of time to do the people’s work. Several investigations are already underway through official channels. Let them do their work, and we will find out what they recommend when finished. She will not and has not gotten off without consequences. As a city resident, I am realistically concerned about the ongoing car theft crisis and the revolving door allowing suspects, especially young ones, to be released only with an appearance ticket to re-offend. There are also a growing number of murders and assaults occurring daily. During her multiple previous terms as DA, she led an effective team and imprisoned many hardened criminals. I don’t condone her unlawful behavior, nor do I excuse her abuse of the Webster police officer/s she confronted. I don’t know how the body camera footage got out to the media and who has something to gain by disgracing her. As I said previously, I know several police officers who got stopped for speeding or even driving while impaired who asked for and got “professional courtesy” and let go with a warning. Rest assured, she will be held accountable one way or the other. I’m just advocating that we stop beating a dead horse and pay attention to more serious problems that need our attention.

  2. Question. Who has the authority to fire the DA or ask for their resignation? Is it the County Executive? The Governor? I don’t know. I also think it’s dangerous to say she was drunk without any actual evidence. One could say “allegedly,” or her behavior might indicate she was impaired, etc. But writing it as a fact could be seen as libelous.

  3. You’re dead wrong Frank Orienter. What you’re saying is that living a lie is OK. We should just overlook this? Sweep it under the carpet? Selective law and order? At what point would you prosecute? Maybe if she would have caused an accident with a fatality? Where is the cut off when it comes to the law? (I’m not a D nor a R. A registered Independent for just this reason)

    • If you had read my post thoroughly, you would have read that I said several official investigations are underway. As someone who had a dear friend brutally murdered several years ago, and as a result of Ms. Dooley and her excellent ADA’s, the animal who committed the heinous crime is now serving 25 to life. I look for balance when judging someone, something I wouldn’t say I like to do. I reflect on the entirety of their actions. I’m not going to advocate for discipline that is punitive rather than corrective. Driving on our roads and highways daily, I witness most motorists exceeding the speed limit by twenty miles an hour or more. I also witness many inattentive and sometimes reckless divers. I have an issue with anyone not stopping when an officer has their lights and signs on. Still, honestly, that is a daily occurrence in the city, which frequently ends with a stolen vehicle being wrecked and usually an unlicensed teenage driver being taken into custody and later released receiving just an appearance ticket. Righteous indignation is unseemly unless it applies to everyone, and earlier this week, several kids in a stolen car almost ran over a police officer who tried to stop the thief and passengers. I haven’t heard a similar uproar about that event. To your point about the RCSD’s failures, I most certainly post frequently about how problematic the issue is and that citizens need to wake up and replace most of the current board members. I even tried to run for school board last year but didn’t get designated, but that’s the topic for another time. I never said to sweep any inappropriate behavior under the rug. I did say we need to establish priorities for our outrage and action. I do not believe that the Rochester City Council should have gotten involved, which I see as a purely political move. Remember, the D’s didn’t field a candidate for DA during the last election, so don’t complain if you don’t provide a viable alternative. Finally, I admonish everyone with this passage from the good book, “He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first.” “Semper Paratus.”

  4. What a day! The Democrats have to be so pleased, even giddy about this. It just proves their point, Republicans ugh!
    It never seizes to amaze me how evil, how miserable, how self centered politicians are. Not will be, or can be, but are.
    That said, I personally feel that Sandra D. ought to resign. After all she is in a position that would take to task anyone who behaved the way she did. That said, I could think of a few more politicians and public servants who should or should have resigned.
    Semper Fi.

  5. So may we anticipate that every black kid who refuses to stop for the cops and then cusses them out will now receive the same treatment that Doorley received? All with the backing of the local GOP of course.

  6. I just read this traffic stop debacle and I didnt know of which party she was. It really should not matter. She needs to resign or be fired. This is inexcusable

    • I would say you are correct in that assessment Ian Macrostie. This is an individual that lost control of her actions, her speech and attitude. Period. This is not a party issue. I can dig up plenty of the shenanigans from both parties. Politician do stand out in such situations. They rarely take responsibility. In this case, as in others, you are correct by suggesting she should resign. That said, I’m afraid the broom and the carpet will be utilized.

  7. If she had not used her official position as district attorney, she would have faced more than a traffic citation for speeding. She failed to stop for a police officer. She refused to comply with numerous orders by the officer while being detained for the traffic infractions (in my state, the charge would be Obstructing Official Business, a criminal offense). Her actions, if she were an average citizen, would have resulted in her being in handcuffs and taken to jail for processing.

    It’s a stain on the rule of law to allow someone to do flagrantly disregard all of the lawful orders she had received, then to only receive a traffic citation. Her calling the police chief, shoving the phone in the officer’s face (along with her DA badge a short time later) had the desired effect. She likely realized during her tantrum that she was going to have to pay a fine for speeding, but she did not seem concerned about the other laws she had broken.

    How can her office have even the appearance of fairness when they prosecute anyone charged with offenses like those she skirted?

  8. After I watched DA Doorley on the BodyCam of a Rochester Police officer, my take away was ‘she needs to resign or be removed’. First, not following an officer’s requests ( over and over again), second, swearing ( over and over ), third, keeping her distance from the officer ( because she had alcohol on her breath), fourth, making a phone call and fifth, going into her house!
    I was a bit confused why the officer allowed her to be so free wheeling — after the third lack of following directions she’s not told to ‘put hands behind your head, on your knees and shut up!’
    She should have had a breathalyzer test since she was acting drunk like many people I have seen ( in real life) just like this. We all saw her !
    No apology will excuse this behavior! I am all about understanding a mistake BUT this was soooo over the top! And over & over! And if she had been a person of color or of an ethic group- the second time you do not obey a police order ==Gun drawn, hands on your head, on your knees and shut up!
    Maybe a shot fired for going into the house!
    This was not a bad day – sorry- I will do better next time. Are you kidding!?!
    Nope = this behavior desires the same treatment we’d all get. Fired! Suspension!
    She’s lucky she was not treated like the people often seen by the DA’s office.

  9. Would she had apologised if the officer did not have a video recorder camera on? She deserves to be removed from her position, She is sorry only because she was caught, No police officer should be called an asshole because he stopped you on a traffic violation.

  10. The officer’s superiors failed him, and she should have been ordered to take a sobriety test. What would have happened if I acted like she did?

  11. This City Council investigation is a tempest in a teapot. The DA apologized; this should be over. We don’t need any more political drama. People make mistakes. We’ve got kids stealing and crashing Kias in the city. We have people being murdered. DA Doorley and her staff continue to do a good job prosecuting and convicting criminals who committed serious crimes. Are Democratic Party leaders going after her because she was elected as a Democrat but is now a Republican? Let’s be honest: cops off duty speed frequently, and when police pull them over, they flash their badges and get “professional courtesy.” The DA is the highest-ranking Law Enforcement officer in the county. She should have stopped and shown her credentials, and she most likely would have been given a warning. Please, elected city officials, move on. We have far more pressing issues that need to be addressed.

    • You were right the first time, she will be held accountable. As an elected official it will be up to us whether at the end of the day she has been admonished, punished or redeemed enough. She can be subject to a recall or fail to be re-elected. That is up to us. There is far too much one mistake and you’re condemned from both sides.

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