Buffalo city officials are moving to restore the pension of a city cop fired for trying to stop another officer from using a chokehold, according to reports.
The Buffalo Common Council is asking the state attorney general to take another look at the 2006 case of former officer Cariol Horne, who was fired one year short of her police pension after she jumped on the back of a white cop who was holding a black man in a chokehold, WIVB-TV reported.
“We now have a totally different attorney general, we have a total different climate and atmosphere and lens right now, across this world, as it deals with policing in the United States,” Common Council President Darius Pridgen told the outlet.
“So I think it’s an opportune time to look back at this case and to see were there civil rights violations, can she be made whole.”
Horne was a 19-year veteran of the police department in 2006 when a white officer, Gregory Kwiatkowski, grabbed Neal Mack, a black man, in a chokehold during a police call. Horne intervened, jumping on Kwiatkowski’s back to stop him, City & State reported.
Buffalo police investigated the incident and determined that Horne’s actions displayed an “extreme lack of professionalism,” the Buffalo News reported at the time.
“Her wrongful conduct toward fellow officers,” the report said, “displays more than an error in judgment, but the temperament of an individual entirely unsuitable to address the substantial responsibilities of police work.”
Horne, who would’ve qualified for a state police pension if she made it to 20 years of service, was instead forced to take odd jobs to support her family.
“So if you cross that thin blue line, then you get ostracized and treated really badly, I didn’t want that to happen to anyone else,” Horne told WIVB this week. “So, I lost my pension, Neal Mack didn’t lose his life. So, Neal Mack still lives to this day because I did intervene.”
Horne has since become a vocal critic of police brutality, and hopes to have legislation passed in her name to protect officers who jump in to stop the use of excessive force by fellow officers, City & State reports.
The move to restore Horne’s pension was one of three resolutions passed by the council this week in the wake of unrest in the city over the police custody death of George Floyd in Minneapolis last month.
The resolutions also call for enforcement of Buffalo’s “duty to intervene” policy, which authorizes cops to step in if another officer is using excessive force, and for the creation of a task force to review police department policies.
City police have been under fire over clashes with protestors, particularly the shoving of a 75-year-old man who was seriously injured in a confrontation with police on June 4. The incident, involving protestor Martin Gugino, has led to charges against two officers.
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