Alleged victim finishes testimony in police brutality trial

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ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (WIVB) – Nicholas Belsito, the man who prosecutors say was assaulted by Erie County Sheriff’s Deputy Kenneth Achtyl at a December 2017 Bills game, wrapped up two days of testimony late Tuesday afternoon.

Achtyl’s trial began on Monday. He faces charges of assault, falsifying records, and official misconduct.

Most of the incident, which began with the arrest of Belsito’s friend, was captured on a police body camera. It depicts Belsito walking up to Achtyl to ask where his friend was being taken. While walking away, Belsito swears at Achtyl, who then begins to move in Belsito’s direction while outside of the frame.

The two come back into frame several seconds later with Achtyl pinning Belsito against a sheriff’s vehicle.

In his testimony, Belsito attempted to fill in the gaps for the jury. He claims Achtyl grabbed him by his sweatshirt and held his baton to his neck before ramming him into the Ford Explorer.

“I didn’t think (swearing) would be a reason for him to come after me,” Belsito testified.

For about four hours, Achtyl’s attorney, Rodney Personius, tried to highlight inconsistencies in Belsito’s testimony for the jury. At one point, Personius asked Belsito why he didn’t just walk away from the confrontation after being given several commands to do so.

“I just thought it was an easy question to answer,” Belsito responded, in reference to the question of where his friend was being taken.

Personius was also able to get Belsito to admit he didn’t fully comply with other orders deputies gave him as he was being taken into custody.

Achtyl was placed on administrative leave from his position as a sheriff’s deputy when the charges were initially filed against him earlier this year. He remains on leave. Sheriff Tim Howard was in the courtroom Tuesday, but had no comment on the proceedings.

“We’ll wait until it’s over. I’ll see you when the case is over,” Howard said.

Testimony is scheduled to resume Wednesday morning. Prosecutors say closing arguments could begin as soon as Thursday.

Belsito has filed a lawsuit against Achtyl, Howard, Erie County, and Deputy James Flowers, who is Achtyl’s partner. That lawsuit remains unresolved.

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