In 2006, Cariol Horne was a few years shy of her 20th as a cop in Buffalo, New York when she and another officer Gregory Kwiatkowski, a white man, accosted a black suspect.
On the occasion, according to Horne, Officer Kwiatkowski was overly enthusiastic in arresting David Mack. Kwiatkowski reportedly locked Mack in a chokehold, a situation that prompted Horne’s intervention to free the suspect from the uncomfortable position.
But in 2008, after internal investigations concluded that Horne had acted unduly, she was fired from the Buffalo Police Department, forfeiting her pension in the process.
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The investigations said Horne had put Kwiatkowski’s safety in danger. But 12 years on, as policing in the US comes under the most intense scrutiny in light of brutality against ethnic minorities as well as efforts by the Black Lives Matter movement, Horne’s case is being revisited.
Brenda McDuffie, president and CEO of the Buffalo Urban League, a New York-based organization committed to the cause of ethnic minorities and other disadvantaged individuals to secure economic self-reliance, parity, power and civil rights, told City and State that Horne was punished for preventing the chokehold on the suspect.
“She lost her livelihood. I mean, which one of us who has any humanity, seeing someone choked to death, just like those officers (in Minneapolis) who should have said, ‘Get off his neck.’ … Excessive force is something that we’re finally dealing with as a nation. But we had a woman in our community who stood up and she has suffered greatly,” McDuffie said.
After she was sacked, Horne had to resort to petty jobs to make ends meet for herself and three sons. In a 2016 interview, she recalled that there was no time to feel sorry for herself when she was sacked but she understood that “even as a police officer, you don’t stand up against police brutality.”
But it would seem the justice that she was denied may not be forever. Earlier this month, the Buffalo Common Council passed a number of resolutions which included a request to the Attorney General’s office to determine how long Horne has to work in order to be ineligible for her pension.
Another of the resolutions gives backing to a “duty to intervene” policy where officers can elect to intervene in a situation involving one of their own who may be abusing an arrest warrant.
Horne is already looking forward to these new times of hope. According to City and State, she wants to go further than the resolutions and get legislation passed to protect future officers who could find themselves in the situation in which she did in 2006.