Erie County District Attorney speaks on charges against Deputy Achtyl

Flynn: I have to "do the right thing and punish" him

Mike Baggerman
May 24, 2019 - 1:23 pm
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BUFFALO, N.Y. (WBEN) - A day after Erie County Sheriff's Deputy Kenneth Achtyl was arraigned on assault charges, the Erie County District Attorney said he has to "do the right thing and punish" the police officer for his conduct in December 2017.

Achtyl allegedly assaulted Nicholas Belsito, who was tailgating at a Buffalo Bills game, after Belsito walked up to Achtyl's vehicle and asked where his friend, who was in custody, was going. Achtyl responded "10 Delaware" then ordered Belsito to "Beat it". Belsito didn't initially understand what Achtyl said and swore at the officer as he left, prompting Achtyl to leave his vehicle and arrest Belsito.

During the encounter, Belsito suffered a broken nose and a concussion. The initial charges against Belsito were dismissed.

"The bar I set to keep safety is pretty darn high," Flynn said. "In this case right here, this officer crossed that bar. He crossed the line. He went over the bar."

Belsito was with friends of his only for the tailgate. In the five to ten minutes leading up to the incident, Flynn said that deputies had beer bottles and cans thrown at them. The person arrested prior to the Belsito incident was allegedly one of those who threw the beer at the deputies.   

"A lot of time has gone past here," Flynn said.

WATCH: Erie County DA John Flynn on the misdemeanors against Deputy Kenneth Achtyl

Body camera footage did not show the assault, according to the DA. The body camera only showed Achtyl leaving the car. However, Flynn said at least five or six other videos, compiled by those who were with Belsito's party that day, showed Belsito getting hit in the face by Achtyl.

"I think the most important thing the (body camera video) shows is the actual restraint of the deputy in the driver's seat who basically says 'nuh-uh, don't get out of the car'," Flynn said. "It's important in that regard.

Flynn said he has no animosity towards Achtyl and explained how Achtyl was cleared of an officer-involving shooting in Springville last August.

"Remarkable restraint and remarkable professional in that case by Officer Achtyl and his partner," Flynn said. "I call them as I see them. I look at the facts of every case. If it warrants a prosecution, I do them. If it doesn't, I exonerate you."

Achtyl's defense attorney, Rod Personius, said that Belsito was told twice to leave but refused to do so and said coverage in the news media has been "woefully inadequate".

"You have to go back to when beer cans were being thrown at law enforcement," Personius said. "You have to go back to when this gentleman was interfering with another arrest."

The case will be tried in Orchard Park Town Court. Achtyl will make his next appearance on June 27. He is suspended without pay from the Erie County Sheriff's Office.

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