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Ex-Buffalo Officer Fired for Reporting Chokehold to Receive Pension after Lawsuit Win

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Officer Cariol Horne stopped coworker Greg Kwiatkowski from applying excessive force on suspect Neal Mack during a chokehold in 2006. The Buffalo Police Department (BPD) proceeded to fire Horne after a hearing before an arbitrator in 2008. Horne received justice on Tuesday; State Supreme Court Judge Dennis Ward annulled her removal and confirmed entitlement to her pension. She will receive benefits and backpay through August 4, 2010.

What We Know:

  • Horne and Kwiatkowski traveled to a domestic situation in 2006. Mack’s ex-girlfriend was accusing him of stealing her $626 Social Security check. He became violent with officers as they arrested him; the police pepper-sprayed the house. Horne testified she was one of the police that pushed Mack out. She also recalled that other officers began struggling with Mack. Kwiatkowski put Mack into a chokehold. Kwiatkowski kept him there for a while, even as Mack said he could not breathe. Horne took physical measures to make sure Mack survived, such as jumping on Kwiatkowski’s back. After the incident, officials asked Horne to take a four-day suspension. Horne insisted she had a hearing, even if it meant she could possibly be fired.
  • In May 2008, she was found guilty on 11 of the 13 internal charges raised against her at the arbitrator hearing. The hearing officer claimed Horne created a substantial danger to Mack and everyone else involved in the incident. The official also stated her use of physical force against Kwiatkowski was “unwarranted” and could have had fatal consequences.
  • At the time, she had been a police officer for 19 years. To retire under the state system and receive a full pension, she needed to spend 20 years on the force. Although removed from the department, Horne could still qualify for a partial pension from the state at 55-years-old. Regardless, Horne wanted her full benefits and spent 15 years trying to overturn her dismissal.
  • Her previous attempts failed, as the courts defended Kwiatkowski and BPD. Erie County District Attorney Frank J. Clark reviewed the case but agreed with the police. Additionally, State Supreme Court Justice Joseph G. Makowski supported Buffalo in a court battle over whether her hearing was legal. Horne also lost to Kwiatkowski in a 2011 defamation suit and had to pay $65,000 in damages.
  • Horne took the case back to court with new lawyers. Her legal team included Ronald Sullivan and Intisar Rabb of Harvard Law School. Previously, Sullivan and his team represented Michael Brown’s family. The firm Kirkland & Ellis also defended her.
  • Ward said recent events determined his decision. He wrote an 11-page ruling in which he mentions the cases of George Floyd and Eric Garner. He states that in most of these situations, the other officers at the scene fail to intervene and save someone from unreasonable physical force. Furthermore, he went on to say police who interrupt in these circumstances are heroes.

“While the Eric Garners and the George Floyds of the world never had a chance for a “do-over,” at least here the correction can be done,” Ward declared.

  • Horne told CNN she is “getting there” in feeling vindicated. She will maintain pushing for accountability in police departments. “If everyone is not vindicated then I’m not vindicated,” she affirmed.

Buffalo recently enacted a law drafted by Horne and attorneys. Cariol’s Law will require officers to step in when they see their colleague using unnecessary force on a suspect. This overturn brings the hope that more law enforcement agents will step up and stop violent acts like this.

The post Ex-Buffalo Officer Fired for Reporting Chokehold to Receive Pension after Lawsuit Win appeared first on Black News Alerts.

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