Elmira says police chief dismissed for 'unprofessional' reaction to body cam investigation
Former Elmira Police Chief Anthony Alvernaz's dismissal stemmed from his reaction to an internal investigation of a Dec. 9, 2022, arrest on the city's Southside, city officials said Thursday.
After the City of Elmira, responding to a Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) request from the Star-Gazette, released police body camera footage and incident reports from the arrest, City Manager Michael Collins and Mayor Dan Mandell issued a joint statement saying Alvernaz acted "in a manner that was unprofessional and insubordinate" when he learned the investigation was happening.
Alvernaz, they said, was given the choice to resign or be terminated.
"He chose termination."
The video footage released shows an unmarked patrol car, which police say Alvernaz was driving, cut off a man who was being pursued after a sequence of 911 call hang-ups. The video shows an officer in pursuit on foot before the man falls. Alvernaz then appears and is shown getting on top of the man, briefly placing his knee on his back before assisting another officer in handcuffing him.
Documents released by the city in late January in response to an earlier FOIL request indicated Alvernaz was forced to resign following accusations of unprofessionalism and insubordination stemming from the arrest.
The city responded to the most recent FOIL request by releasing about 4-and-a-half minutes of police body camera footage from the arrest, along with incident reports written by three responding officers.
Read the full incident reports here.
What happened Dec. 9 on Elmira's Southside
The reports indicate officers were first dispatched to an address on Riverside Avenue in Elmira Dec. 9, 2022, for a 911 hang-up.
Someone inside the residence yelled through a door that everyone was fine and they wouldn't open the door to speak to an officer, the report said.
Police later returned to the address after several more calls were reported, and while they investigated if there was an actual emergency or if someone was misusing the 911 system, one of the occupants climbed out of a window and fled the scene on foot, according to the report.
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Officers located the person on Post Street, according to the report submitted by one of the officers, and Alvernaz, who had also responded to the call, positioned his vehicle on the sidewalk to try and prevent the subject from running.
The man tried to climb over the hood of the vehicle but fell. He got up and started running but fell again before officers took him into custody, the report said.
The man, who was charged with obstructing governmental administration, was barefoot and had a large gash on one of his feet, the report stated. Officers called for paramedics and the injured man was transported to Arnot Ogden Medical Center for treatment.
Alvernaz could not be reached for comment Thursday. He previously stated his lawyer advised him not to speak publicly about the issue, but he did release a statement saying he was unwilling to compromise his principles or ethics.
"Ultimately, my beliefs cost me my job," Alvernaz said in January.
After dismissing Alvernaz, Collins appointed Deputy Police Chief Kris Thorne to serve as acting chief, a move that has since been made permanent.
Collins and Mandell said Thursday, "The reasons that resignation or termination were presented is a personnel matter, which the city has consistently stated, and will not divulge any further reasons relating to his termination."
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This article originally appeared on Elmira Star-Gazette: Elmira police chief Alvernaz dismissed: What body camera footage shows