Watch the full-length bodycam footage here. Collins’ and Mandell’s full interview is in the player above.
ELMIRA, N.Y. (WETM) – A day after body camera footage was released of an incident that led to the firing of former Elmira Police Chief Anthony Alvernaz in January, city officials went on the record to offer some clarification.
On March 30, 2023, City Manager Mike Collins and Mayor Mandell clarified that the actual incident was not the reason Alvernaz was fired. Rather, the footage triggered an investigation, and Alvernaz was terminated because of his behavior after he found out he was under investigation in January, according to the two City officials. They did not clarify what that behavior was, but repeated that it was “unprofessional and insubordinate”.
“The reasons why the resignation or termination were presented is a personnel matter, which the City has consistently stated, and we will not divulge any further reasons relating to his termination,” Collins said.
To clarify confusion among the public as to why Alvernaz was being investigated for the bodycam footage in the first place, Mayor Mandell said there were two reasons. Alvernaz drove his car toward the running man to cut him off, and he then pulled his gun while running and set it down, unsecured, next to the man’s head before he was handcuffed. Alvernaz then reholstered his gun after the man was handcuffed.
“That had to be looked into,” Mandell said. He explained that the point of the City’s investigation was to determine whether it was necessary to drive the car at the suspect, running the risk of seriously injuring him. “From a use of force standpoint”, Mandell also questioned why Alvernaz pulled a gun on an unarmed man running away from him,
What does the bodycam footage show?
On March 29, bodycam footage and multiple incident reports from that incident were released. It showed a brief foot chase involving four officers. In the video, Alvernaz is seen driving an unmarked police car into a lawn as a man was running from police down a sidewalk. The man goes over the hood and runs a short distance before falling on his stomach.
Alvernaz’s report says the man “jumped and cleared the hood… but then fell on the landing.” Another officer’s report says the man “attempted to jump the hood of the vehicle but fell.”
While running, Alvernaz is heard yelling, “I’m going to shoot you in the f—— face, motherf—–!” Mandell confirmed it was Alvernaz who yelled that.
Alvernaz is then seen straddling the man’s back and handcuffing him with the help of other officers, saying, “I don’t know how the hell you cleared that car.” He then gets up and leaves the scene.
Initially, Collins and Mandell declined to comment on the video, continuing a two-and-a-half month pattern of not providing any explanation surrounding Alvernaz’s replacement. Mandell said the video took that long to be released because the City had to turn it over to the NYS Attorney General’s Office first.
The two said that two other officers on December 9 had body cameras that were on and recording; Alvernaz did not. The City only provided the one recording because it showed Alvernaz driving his car onto the sidewalk and pulling his gun, Collins explained. The other officers with bodycams didn’t arrive until the man was already on the ground.
Alvernaz was fired on January 9, 2023. In late February, the City of Elmira responded to Freedom of Information Act requests from 18 News and provided letters and audio recordings from the days leading up to Jan. 9. Those documents confirmed that Alvernaz was fired, in part, for an incident on December 9, 2022. Collins also said his behavior in the days leading up to Jan. 9 was part of the reason for his termination.