Charles LoTempio, the Rochester police investigator who was suspended with pay after handcuffing an EMT at Strong Memorial Hospital, has a history of violations within the department, including abuse of force.
Video footage of LoTempio, 44, handcuffing the medic sparked widespread condemnation. But police disciplinary files show that the incident was not LoTempio’s first run-in with abuse of power allegations .
The files, contained in a public city database of proven Rochester police misconduct cases, show that LoTempio pleaded guilty in two separate incidents. The offenses included strip searching a man without a warrant and knocking a man’s teeth out with a flashlight during a traffic stop.
The first incident occurred in February 2012, when Jason Johnson encountered LoTempio while outside Callahan’s Bar on Monroe Avenue. In testimony Johnson gave to the department’s professional standards section, LoTempio approached Johnson and asked for his identification. Upon receiving it, he was told to put his hands behind his back to be searched.
“I asked him, ‘Was I under arrest?’ He said, ‘Just put your hands behind your back,’” Johnson said. “And, you know, I asked him what was the problem. And he really didn’t answer to what I was saying. …He just pretty much just went in my pockets and was looking for drugs.”
Johnson was then handcuffed and taken to the police station, where he was strip searched in what Johnson characterized as an invasive manner.
Johnson said after nothing was found on him, LoTempio drove him back to Meigs Street near the bar and let him out. Johnson stopped at a store and then called 911 to file a complaint.
LoTempio pleaded guilty to violating departmental policy in the incident and received a letter of reprimand from former Chief James Sheppard on April 3, 2013.
The second incident occurred later that year, when LoTempio was charged with excessive force and filing an erroneous subject resistance report.
On Dec. 19, 2013, LoTempio was summoned by a fellow officer to assist with a search of two men, Quintan Brown and Robert Jiles, on Sanford Street.
Upon searching Brown and finding marijuana on him, LoTempio set him back in the car and stated he planned to give him an appearance ticket.
The details of what occurred next differ between Brown, LoTempio, other officers, and EMTs on the scene.
As LoTempio approached Brown, in what he said was an attempt to remove handcuffs, a struggle ensued, during which LoTempio slammed Brown to the ground and hit him in the mouth with what was described as a “foot-long, aluminum Streamlight flashlight.” Brown said he had four teeth knocked out as a result of the incident. A medical report confirmed he had “several fractured teeth.”
LoTempio said he accidentally hit Brown with the flashlight, although the subject resistance report he filed neglected to mention that he also attempted to punch Brown.
The departmental investigation noted “regardless of Officer LoTempio’s intention at the time of the jab, he struck a handcuffed suspect with a flashlight.”
As a result of the incident, LoTempio was suspended for 30 days without pay in 2014. LoTempio was also transferred from the East to West Patrol Division as a result of the incident.
LoTempio joined the Rochester Police Department in 2005, and was promoted to investigator in 2015.