Erie County Sheriff's Deputy Kenneth Achtyl Found Guilty

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Photo credit WBEN Photo/Mike Baggerman

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (WBEN) - Erie County Sheriff's Deputy Kenneth Achtyl has been found guilty in his brutality trial after a December 2017 assault at a Bills tailgate.

A jury in Orchard Park Town Court deliberated after hearing closing arguments Friday and returned guilty verdicts on reckless assault, official misconduct and falsifying records.

BREAKING: Ken Achtyl found guilty of reckless assault, official misconduct, and falsifying business records in his brutality trial. It took 3.5 hours of deliberations. pic.twitter.com/beMSKTFjca

— Mike Baggerman (@MikeBaggerman) September 27, 2019

Nicholas Belsito was arrested by Achtyl at a Bills tailgate after he swore at the officer over an interaction regarding where his arrested friend, Dylan Lowry, was being taken to. After Belsito was told to "beat it" multiple times, he walked away from the patrol car with Achtyl and Deputy James Flowers and swore at the police officers in the process. Attorneys on both sides said this was the straw that broke the camel's back.

It is not illegal to swear at a police officer.

WATCH: Body Camera footage of Nicholas Belsito's arrest at a Bills tailgate in December 2017

Defense attorney Rodney Personius tried to argue that the jury should have looked at the entire circumstance leading up to the arrest. The chaotic atmosphere at the Bills game that day included beer cans being thrown at officers, with one hitting Achtyl in the elbow.

“The cursing wasn’t the reason for the arrest of Belsito,” Personius said. “It was the straw, not the bale.”

Prosecutors argued, though, that the lead-up to the incident at the car window had no significance in this case. Seven minutes passed between the arrest of Belsito’s friend, Dylan Lowry, and the initial approach to the window by Belsito.

“(Swearing) was (the straw),” Attorney James Marra said. “The curse set off the anger and rage of the defendant...You have the right to curse at police officers. You probably shouldn’t.”

Achtyl did not testify in his brutality case. Personius describes it as the “pink elephant” in the case and said that his client didn’t testify because he has confidence in the presumption of innocence.

Sentencing set for January 23rd at 5 p.m.

Achtyl remains suspended without pay from the sheriff's office pending the result of sentencing.

READ MORE:

DAY 4: DEFENSE RESTS WITHOUT CALLING UP KEN ACHTYL

DAY 3: DEPUTY JAMES FLOWERS DIDN'T WANT ACHTYL TO ARREST BELSITO

DAY 2: NICHOLAS BELSITO CROSS EXAMINED BY DEFENSE

REACTION:

Erie County Sheriff's Deputy Tim Howard was upset with the district attorney's office after the verdict because he believes there was a breakdown in communication.

Sheriff Tim Howard said there’s a breakdown in communication between the DA’s office and the sheriff’s department. He’s concerned the body camera footage was released BEFORE the trial.He reiterated his support for body cameras in future.Achtyl suspended pending sentencing pic.twitter.com/RdI1vyrnn8

— Mike Baggerman (@MikeBaggerman) September 27, 2019

Specifically, Howard was upset that the body camera footage was released publicly before the trial.

"When the district attorneys office have found fault with the performance of law enforcement, they have addressed it either at the time with the officers of with the officer's supervisors," Howard said. "The fact that this communication no longer exists and our own efforts to get them answered."

He said the body camera footage was released to a civil attorney.

Howard was in court for four of the five days of the trial.

"The police officers that watched this case don't know where it went wrong," Howard said. "I think the issue was who do they believe? Who would they have believed if these stories were called into question nearly two years later had all of those things been established as truth two years before."

Erie County DA John Flynn responded to Howard's statements.

"He's obviously making the premise there that my office turned over the body cam to the public; well, you all know that I didn't give any of you the body cam," said Flynn. "I gave the body cam footage to Achtyl's defense lawyer. The body cam footage was given to the victim's defense lawyer as part of the criminal case, so I did not distribute any body cam footage to the media or to anyone outside of the attorneys in the criminal context, which I'm required to do under the disclosure and discovery obligations to give to the other side."