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Officer Charged after Video Shows Him Choking Suspect

New York has paid up in four excessive force suits against veteran
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 25, 2020 3:43 PM CDT

(Newser) – Prosecutors have charged a New York City police officer after a video appeared to show him choking a black suspect until the man lost consciousness. David Afanador, 39, and several other officers confronted Ricky Bellevue and two other men on a boardwalk at Rockaway Beach in Queens on Sunday morning, after police received reports of a man screaming at people. After the officers tackled Bellevue, CBS reports, the video appears to show Afanador putting his arm around the man's neck and not letting go until an officer tugs on his shirt and someone says, "Stop choking him, bro!" Bellevue, 35, was released from a hospital after treatment. Chokeholds became illegal this month in New York, but they already were prohibited by the department.

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"This police officer is now a defendant and is accused of using a chokehold," the prosecutor said, "a maneuver we know has been lethal." The Queens prosecutor said that the police bodycams show officers were cursed at during the encounter, per WNBC, but that it's their job to deescalate regardless. The city has settled four excessive force lawsuits against Afanador, who was suspended without pay. Two years ago, he was accused of hitting a minor in the mouth with his gun, breaking the person's teeth. That encounter also was captured on video. Afanador, who joined the force in 2005, was named in complaints to the department's watchdog eight times, records show. Only one other time has he been suspended. In the new incident, Afanador is charged with strangulation and attempted strangulation, and he faces up to seven years in prison. (Read more chokehold stories.)

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