“We want to restore Michael back into the community where he can become a productive member of society, but that's a two-way street,” said Canandaigua Police Chief Stephen Hedworth.

CANANDAIGUA — Michael Orbino walked out of court Tuesday, his name cleared of any hate crime despite being found guilty of harassment. Experts say he has a lot of work to do to avoid future trouble.

Orbino and Dr. Jerid Fisher — who testified during his trial — say he has Tourette syndrome and coprolalia, the involuntary outburst of obscene words or socially inappropriate and derogatory remarks.

“I’ve had a lot of problems with the law,” said Orbino, who during a February tirade screamed out racial slurs and threats of killing people at two young African-American high school students in Baker Park. “I was out and about with a buddy that day. We were drinking and then I felt like something was wrong. I started feeling anxious and anxiety was building up inside me.”

Some community members have been on edge about Orbino prior to this incident. Canandaigua Police met with Orbino and his mother to discuss his behavior back in 2017. Others have voiced concern over his racist rants on social media.

“Guilty. Put the white human in jail on a hate crime charge. Send a message that hate (racism) will NOT be tolerated in Ontario county,” posted a viewer on the Messenger Post Media Facebook page.

“I completely understand how people are on edge,” said Fisher, who testified during his trial as a neutral expert. “With school shootings and mass shootings going on I understand why people would be scared of him, especially when he’s drunk in public.”

Orbino, who has spent a significant amount of his adult life incarcerated or behind bars, admitted that he’s not taking his medication and is going to continue to drink.

“He’s been jailed more than 20 times; has prison worked for this guy?” said Fisher, who is continuing to work with Orbino pro bono. “If we don’t do something, something is going to happen again.”

Orbino, a Shortsville native, admits that he has a mental health issue.

“I yell words and I can’t help it. I feel like I have to,” said Orbino, who says he’s afraid to go outside because he thinks police want to arrest him again. “It’s embarrassing and it’s hard. I can’t help it, but I feel like I have to.”

It’s not just Michael Orbino, this is a national issue, said Canandaigua Police Chief Stephen Hedworth.
 
“There’s a lot of different approaches being implemented,” Hedworth said. “There’s always mitigating factors in dealing with those with mental health issues.”

Orbino had been held in Ontario County Jail, locked in a confinement pod, awaiting trial since Feb. 14.

“I used to take medication when I was younger,” said Orbino. “I don’t want the side effects. Pills are bad, pills are dangerous.”

According to Orbino, he lives with family and receives a Social Security check of $700 a month. Living anywhere else isn’t an option, he said.



After Orbino was found guilty of the class B misdemeanor harassment charge, Monroe County Judge Donald Randall, who presided over the case, sentenced Orbino to time served and released him. The court did not order follow-up for treatment or supervision.

“Unfortunately, he is likely to reoffend unless he gets treatment,” said Fisher. “In my report I laid out concrete recommendations. Alcohol is poison for him. He can’t drink, but there’s no way to hold him to these requirements.”

Local law enforcement faces the challenges of ensuring the safety of the community, and handling an unmedicated man with a mental disorder.

“We want to restore Michael back into the community where he can become a productive member of society, but that’s a two-way street,” said Hedworth.

The court did not order post-release supervision guidelines, so legally he’s not required to do anything. Orbino’s defense attorney Jennifer Kehoe, Fisher and Hedworth are planning on meeting to discuss how they can all work together to help Orbino.

“People look at me and judge me by how I look. They see me and they think this dude can fight,” said Orbino. “People don’t know me but I’m very sensitive, very sensitive in my heart.”