Officials in Buffalo are investigating why a Black police officer was the one fired after she intervened when another cop, who was white, placed a suspect in a chokehold.
CNN affiliate WIVB reported that Cariol Horne got involved after she witnessed an officer choking Neal Mack during an arrest more than a decade ago in November 2006. She was subsequently fired.
By that point, she had served 19 years on the Buffalo Police Department and one just one year shy of 20 which would allow her to receive her pension. However, the incident prevented her from collecting as she was fired.
Horne believed not qualifying for her pension was retaliation.
“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 said. “So, I lost my pension, Neal Mack didn’t lose his life, so Neal Mack still lives to this day because I did intervene.”
The Buffalo Common Council has now put forth a resolution to the New York Attorney General’s Office to reconsider the case. It will call for officers to practice “Duty First” which would require officers to protect citizens from excessive force.
Buffalo Common Council President Darius G. Pridgen said the current climate made the resolution more likely to garner support and reinstate Horne’s pension. In the wake of George Floyd’s death, there have been global protests against police brutality.
“We now have a totally different Attorney General, we have a totally different climate and atmosphere and lens right now, across this world, as it deals with policing in the United States,” said Pridgen. “So I think it’s an opportune time to look back at this case and to see were there civil rights violations so she can be made whole.”
Buffalo mayor Byron Brown who is African American, said Horne did not have to be fired but that she made a “conscious decision” to go before an arbitrator rather than to go before the first Black police commissioner, H. McCarthy Gipson. He was appointed by Brown and unanimously confirmed by the Common Council.
“The arbitrator that officer Horne went before recommend that she be terminated and she was terminated based on that arbitrator’s recommendation,” Brown said. “I didn’t terminate her, she went through a process that she called for and was terminated.”
The New York attorney generals office has not yet responded to the resolution or the circumstances surrounding the firing of Horne.
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