The road ahead for Doorley

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A speeding ticket could have been no more than a minor embarrassment for Monroe County District Attorney Sandra Doorley. But her behavior toward a Webster police officer who attempted to stop her April 22 has Doorley now facing multiple investigations and some calling for her resignation.  

Outcomes of those probes could see Doorley censured or disciplined, lead to her disbarment, result in criminal charges, or even cause her to be removed from office. Yet Doorley also could be cleared of any wrongdoing beyond the speeding violation to which she already has pled guilty.

The probes include a referral to the state courts’ Attorney Grievance Committee; a state Commission on Prosecutorial Conduct inquiry; and an investigation by Monroe County’s Office of Public Integrity and Board of Ethics.

Doorley referred herself to the Attorney Grievance Committee, but others as well could file complaints with the body whose powers include disbarment of lawyers who commit ethical lapses.

Doorley also asked Onondaga County District Attorney William Fitzpatrick, a fellow Republican, to investigate the incident. However, Fitzpatrick reportedly has ended his involvement, after he and Doorley mutually agreed that the state commission would be the proper forum to examine the matter.

The county and the state commission probes respectively come at the request of the Monroe County Legislature, where Democrats hold the majority of seats, and Democratic Gov. Kathy Hochul.

The state Commission on Prosecutorial Conduct was created in 2021. It had been initially authorized by a 2018 law, but encountered delays including a lawsuit brought by a group of New York district attorneys—including Doorley—that led to amendments. Its proposed operating rules and procedures were released only last month.

The Doorley investigations

Multiple probes of District Attorney Sandra Doorley’s conduct are under way:

■ Working under the state Appellate Division’s Fourth Department, the Attorney Grievance Committee considers misconduct complaints lodged against lawyers. Its powers include temporary or permanent suspension of a lawyer’s license. It generally does not release results of its investigation unless it finds that an attorney has breached ethical standards.

■ District attorneys like the Onondaga County DA usually investigate criminal violations. They generally do not release results of such probes unless a target is charged with crime. Whether William Fitzpatrick’s probe would investigate possible criminal conduct or release a final report in Doorley’s case is not clear. He did not respond to a request for comment.

■ The Monroe County Office of Public Integrity can subpoena witnesses. If it determines a subject of its investigations has committed a crime, it does not itself prosecute the violation but hands the case over to an appropriate authority. It has promised to release a report detailing its findings in the Doorley investigation.

■ The state’s Commission on Prosecutorial Conduct operates similarly to the Monroe County OPI but on a statewide level. It only probes allegations of ethical or criminal prosecutorial misbehavior. Like the county OPI, the commission intends to issue a report of its probe of Doorley’s behavior.

As governor, Hochul also has the constitutional authority to remove a district attorney from office. In February, Republicans in the state Senate asked her to remove Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg for his “unconscionable handling” of an attack on two New York Police Department officers outside of a Times Square shelter. However, this authority is seldom used and would involve due process steps.

All nine members of Rochester’s City Council signed an April 27 letter asking state Attorney General Letitia James to investigate the incident. The entire Council and James also are Democrats.

“As public officials, we are held to the highest standards of ethics, accountability, and respect for the law. The behavior exhibited by Ms. Doorley during the traffic stop, as captured in the body camera footage, appears to violate these standards,” the letter states in part.

James so far has not announced an investigation of Doorley.

The April 22 incident began when Doorley failed to pull over after Officer Cameron Crisafulli turned on his lights and hit his siren after observing her driving 55 miles an hour in a 35-mph zone. Instead, she drove her black SUV approximately half a mile to her Webster home. Crisafulli pulled in behind her. 

Noting that he could have charged Doorley as well for failing to pull over, Crisafulli only handed her a speeding ticket.

Three days later, apparently in response to questions about the incident, Doorley issued a brief statement describing what had occurred and saying she had pled guilty to speeding and sent the ticket to the Webster Town Court. Doorley also stated that she had called the Webster police chief as she drove only to inform him that she was not a threat and would speak to the officer upon arriving home.

When Webster police released Crisafulli’s body-worn-camera footage of the encounter, the  incident went viral, sparking a spate of local, national and even international coverage by news outlets including the New York Times and network newscasts.

Doorley then delivered a more full-throated apology. In a brief video, Doorley unequivocally states that she did not treat Crisafulli with “the respect that he deserves” and admits that “what I did was wrong.”

Facing the camera head on, Doorley describes herself as having been stressed by dealing with three homicides over the weekend and watching a video of a cab driver being killed. She was also “still reeling from a frightening medical concern that my husband received that afternoon.”

Despite her bad day, Doorley continues, “it was wrong for me to take it out on an officer.”

In addition to pleading guilty to the speeding ticket and calling for the Attorney Grievance Committee’s and Onondaga County DA’s investigations, she will take ethics training, Doorley promises in the video.

County Republican leaders, pointing to her apology, have voiced strong support for Doorley. The city police officers’ union also has lined up behind the district attorney. In a statement, the Rochester Police Locust Club acknowledged that “Doorley’s conduct on the day of the incident … fell short of the standard that is expected of her as the County’s chief law enforcement official.” But her mistakes “in no way overshadow Ms. Doorley’s 30+ year record of fighting for the victims of crime in Monroe County. … We looking forward to moving past this incident and continuing our positive relationship with Ms. Doorley and her office.”

On Tuesday, the New York State Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers urged Doorley to resign, saying her actions “make her unfit to continue to serve.” But she will not do so, she said in a TV interview last week.

Investigators might see Doorley’s guilty plea and her acknowledgement of inappropriate behavior as ending the matter. But they also could also call for further action.

A state law, Section 195 of New York’s penal code, holds that an official who “commits an act relating to his office but constituting an unauthorized exercise of his official functions, knowing that such act is unauthorized,” can be guilty of a Class A misdemeanor.

In Crisafulli’s body-worn-camera footage, Doorley appears to repeatedly suggest that her status as Monroe County DA should excuse her from any traffic violation.

Speaking to police officers assembled in her garage, Doorley states that in a call to Webster Police Chief Dennis Kohlmeier from her car while Crisafulli was attempting to pull her over, she asked the chief to “just tell (Crisafulli) it’s me.”

“I thought no one would ever pull over a black SUV; if you ran my plates,” Doorley later chides Crisafulli while standing in her garage. Crisafulli interrupts, explaining that he didn’t have time to run her plates while he was trying to get Doorley to stop. He then asks Doorley to step outside of her garage. Doorley refuses, telling Crisafulli that “I’m waiting for you just to leave.”

Later, after earlier flashing her DA badge, Doorley tells Crisafulli to write a speeding ticket but adds, “I’m the one that’s going to prosecute the ticket.” She adds, “You know what I’m going to do with the ticket?” Doorley leaves the thought hanging.

What investigators might make of Doorley’s exchanges with Crisafulli remains to be seen. Investigating bodies like those probing Doorley typically do not comment until their inquiries are complete. How soon any might release findings is unclear.

What shape any reports might take could largely depend on what Kohlmeier, Crisafulli and other Webster police officers tell investigators.

In a statement issued after Doorley’s apology video, Kohlmeier did not mention Doorley by name, but in an obvious reference to the traffic-stop incident commended the Webster Police Department for “handling a dynamic event with such professionalism.” Crisafulli’s body-worn-camera footage “confirms the integrity and character of our officers,” the chief added.

Citing the ongoing investigations, Kohlmeier has declined further comment.

Will Astor is Rochester Beacon senior writer. 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]

28 thoughts on “The road ahead for Doorley

  1. I think they will let the “investigation” ride out for a bit to see if the public complaints die down and all is forgotten.

    • Not sure, the bodies investigating her are led by Democrats. If she resigns or is forced out the Dems can name a new DA. They have an incentive to keep at it. The Republicans would do the same.

  2. Actually double jeopardy is having charges placed a second time for the same crime, usually after a trial has commenced. Granted since Doorley was charged with speeding she cannot be tried a second time for that. However, she could be charged for resisting arrest or obstruction of governmental administration.

    You can read it for yourself here.

    PS: are we talking about this Astacio?

  3. It’s not clear how someone calculated Doorley’s annual retirement at $289,000 a year when she makes $184,000 a year. No state retirement pays that much over the actual salary. I’m guessing her medical and dental don’t equal $100,000 a year even if she got 100% retirement, which no state retirement system offers. The best NYS retirement plan is 2% of the final average salary for every year over 20. Therefore, if Doorley has been with the office for 32 years, she would get 64% of her salary at best. That’s far below $289,000 at $118,000. And to be clear she cannot be denied an earned benefit, that would be illegal. Even if a state employee is convicted of a felony earned benefits cannot be denied, it’s constitutionally protected by the Fifth Amendment. Just saying.

  4. All this is very unacceptable!!!! She needs to be arrested put in jail loser job!!! Now if anybody working class or just an ordinary person would have done this they would have been handcuffed disordered conduct running from the law swearing at the law there’s so many charges here and she gets a speeding ticket hello come on New York State wake up Kathy hogle do your job fire her put her in jail a rest her suspender license immediately!!!

  5. This incident boils down to one simple question. Was Doorley treated in the same manner as any other driver, male, female, young old, rich, poor, black, white ,etc. would have been had they acted exactly as she did? Since the answer is obviously no, then we have to ask whether Doorley is the only one involved who should be investigated and,if necessary, disciplined. Even the hypocrisy of an alleged Back the Blue Republican resisting arrest and abusing a cop fails in comparison to the total lack of consistency in the way the police handle these situations.

  6. If THIS DA is not fired, I am totally removing myself from this lost world! I will load my poor, decrepit body into my Uber UFO and find a planet that has even an ounce of intelligence and common sense! We are totally wasted here as a society, and would the last person off this miserable planet, please push the big, red button! I have always thought that the earth was an alien experiment and we have failed miserably!

  7. She used her official position to hinder a police officer in the performance of his duties. I’m sure there is a State Statue on this very law. Look it up. See what the penalty is. She used her position, and threatened an on duty police officer. She should have already been arrested, but no, she calls the Chief instead. Should be removed immediately.

    • Totally agree she is so full of crap and lying to press sooo arogant ….really unbelievable

      “I had a bad day”?? REALLYYYYYY
      Yes it IS HOW YOU ACT!!!

  8. Sorry she’s wrong,no excuse for her behavior she of all people should
    Know better ,so it’s alright if I’m driving and a police officer lights me up and I choose to keep going to.

    say “Wegmans “and I choose to stop there, now ,I’ll see what the officer is stopping me for !I don’t think that is legal !She thought she was above the law !!

  9. Just one thought. This is NOT political. It does not matter that Republicans stand by her or whatever Democrats have to say.
    JUST WATCH THE BODYCAM! Investigate, ok – then either remove her or ask her to resign. Simple! This type of behavior should not tolerated and is not tolerated – she is fortunate she was not handcuffed, told to get on her knees with a gun pointed at her or shot when she entered her house – after repeatedly being told to cooperate. She’s lucky no Breathalizer test was given! Not a political Evaluation! Common sense evaluation! Sorry Sandra- big error for a public servant.

  10. For someone who deals in a high stress environment, her outburst over the traffic stop is not a one time incident as she tries to make us believe. I suspect she is prone to such outburst, and I suspect if her staff were free to talk, they would agree. She needs to resign from her position as her outburst was not only unprofessional, it You was completely unethical. Props to the officer handling the situation.

  11. Refusing to stop for a police officer is a crime, a violation of the law. I don’t know if it is a misdemeanor or a felony, but anyone else would be charged with more than a speeding ticket.

    • Something is rotten in the state of Denmark. A police officer in Monroe County doesn’t know who the DA is? An officer from the town in which the town police have routinely responded to the DA’s home as she has received threats and been harassed by protestors, doesn’t know who the DA is as he stops her in her official Black Chevy Tahoe decked out for the top law enforcement officer of the county with official plates? And after he can see the police equipment? Consider for one moment he was acting the fool and pushing her buttons with feigned ignorance. Is this why she she called him what she did and acted upset? Did she know she was being jerked around? That said I sure hope I won’t be judged by my worst day after dealing with three murders, watching a man being executed on video, and hearing bad news about my spouse’s health.

      • Oh brother! It’s all I can say about that sorry execise in whitewash. But I do enjoy a “law and order” type desperately trying to make the perp the victim.

      • Not a whitewash sir, not excusing her behavior. First, offering a reason is not the same as excusing or whitewashing her behavior. Second, sometimes there is more than meets the eye and something isn’t quite right here. Third, to quote Marvin Gaye, “Don’t believe anything you hear, and half of what you see.” I’m simply asking the question. Could there be two perps?

    • Sir, actually it’s only a traffic violation, which is not a crime.

      § 1101. Required obedience to traffic laws. It is unlawful and, unless
      otherwise declared in this title with respect to particular offenses, it
      is a traffic infraction for any person to do any act forbidden or fail
      to perform any act required in this title.

  12. at 1:51 on the full tape Doorley distracts the officer by jamming her cellphone in his face and then flees to her interior home door off the garage with her ‘lunch bag’ while he implores her to come back out to the traffic stop she carried in to her garage. what was in the bag? was all this to avoid a d.u.i.? Why can’t she be suspended and barred from working cases during the investigation?

      • She thinks that she is above the law…she is supiorior to any one else and she can do what ever she wants. What did she take in the house? She gave a full bullshit apology and solely to gain favor and forgiveness. She is a bold faced lying asshole. She only did the public apology to save her own ass. The officer gave her so much
        grace that he shouldn’t have. Police officers are the one on the crime scene that see the REAL bodys and blood unlike her that see’s pictures of the scene.. You’ve had a bad day madam? That’s the job you were elected to do. You are entitled and I hope you are not reelected and even discharged from your current position.

  13. I think Rochester Beacon deserves credit for the fact that this is the most complete report that I have seen thus far, relative to potential consequences for Monroe County’s District Attorney Sandra Doorley’s criminal behavior on 4/22/24 ( ). Of the possible potential consequences, more than likely she will receive THE less harsh. As former Rochester judge and practicing Attorney extraordinaire, Ms. Leticia Astacio had explained via a facebook video that — at this point, Doorley probably won’t be charged with anything else — because it could amount to double-jeopardy, which Ms. Astacio said is the reason why she believes Doorley pleaded guilty to the speeding charge so quickly, e.g., to avoid being charged with anything else. “DOORLEY KNOWS THE LAW.” SO, THE UNEQUIVOCALLY-CLARION CALL NOW NEEDS TO BE FOR GOVERNOR KATHY HOCHUL TO REMOVE DOORLEY AT ONCE (WITH NO SEVERANCE BENEFITS, INCLUDING RETIREMENT — THE LATTER OF WHICH MS. ASTACIO SAID WOULD AMOUNT TO $289,000 PUBLIC DOLLARS ANNUALLY — ).

    Take It Down Planning Committee / Faith Community Alliance Coalition’s April 29, 2024 Press Statement:

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