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Big Win in Court for Cop Fired for Stopping Chokehold

Cariol Horne can get her pension, NY judge rules
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 14, 2021 1:53 PM CDT

(Newser) – After she intervened to stop a fellow Buffalo police officer who was using excessive force on a suspect, Cariol Horne ended up getting fired just months short of the 20 years of service she needed for a full pension. That decision has now been reversed after a lawsuit that cited "Cariol's law," which Buffalo introduced last year to protect officers like Horne, the New York Times reports. In the 2006 incident that led to the end of her police career, Horne said she intervened to stop officer Gregory Kwiatkowski as he had a Black suspect in a chokehold. She and Kwiatkowski reportedly exchanged blows. After hearings and departmental charges, she was fired in 2008—the same year Kwiatkowski was promoted. Horne, 53, ended up working odd jobs and spent time living in her car.

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Kwiatkowski—who won a $65,000 judgment in a defamation case against Horne and her lawyer—was later sentenced to four months in prison for using excessive force on a group of Black teenagers, CBS reports. In a ruling Tuesday, state Supreme Court Justice Dennis E. Ward reversed a 2010 decision that upheld Horne's firing, WKBW reports. He ordered Buffalo to retroactively reinstate Horne as a police officer from July 26, 2008 to August 4, 2010, pay her back wages and benefits, and make any required pension contributions. In his ruling, Ward cited the death of George Floyd and quoted the Rev. Martin Luther King, saying "the time is always right to do right." Horne was among the activists who pushed for the Buffalo law, which requires police officers to intervene when another officer is using excessive force. (Read more Buffalo stories.)

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