SPD officer suspended 15 days without pay following unauthorized use of force in September incident

Local News

SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — Syracuse Police Chief Kenton Buckner announced the suspension of an officer without pay following unauthorized use of force in a September incident.

According to Buckner, Officer Michael Birklin has been suspended for 15 days without pay for unauthorized use of force, failure to report an incident, failure to de-escalate and for his demeanor during the incident.

Body camera video from the original incident, which occurred during the early morning hours of Sept. 14, shows Birklin face-to-face with a man as they exchange words. Birklin eventually shoves the man in the face.

A person who was present during the incident recorded it on his cell phone, and Birklin later hit the cell phone out of his hand.

There were multiple officers on the scene and, according to Buckner, none of the officers reported the incident to the police department. The police department first found out about the incident via social media.

On top of Birklin’s suspension, Buckner said he will also be re-trained on the policies he failed to comply with during the incident.

Two other officers at the scene also received written reprimands for not reporting the incident, but they were not suspended, according to Buckner.

Buckner also said Birklin’s actions were an example of “unacceptable behavior,” and he also apologized to the community for the officer’s actions.

Buckner did want to make the point that the entire Syracuse Police force does not conduct themselves in that manner.

The original incident took place in the early morning hours of Monday, September 14. The incident began when police found a group of people in Onondaga Park after hours. The group of people would not comply with officers, which led them to the 300 block of Palmer Ave.

At Palmer Avenue, officers saw a vehicle parked on the road with a fake registration and tried to tow the vehicle. That is when the situation escalated as a man sat on the hood of the vehicle.

The man eventually stood up from the hood of the car, and body camera footage shows two officers arresting him for the fake registration.

Then, people standing outside starting yelling at officers and the incident escalated even further. Buckner says objects were being thrown at the officers.

Eventually, Birklin confronted one of the men and that’s when the unauthorized use of force occurred, as he shoved him in the face.

Buckner said other than the fake registration arrest, no other arrests were made as a result of this incident, and he is proud of the other officers for showing a great amount of restraint.

According to Buckner, Birklin is also being investigated for another use of force incident at this time.

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