Veteran officer who stopped white officer from brutalizing Black suspect wins pension after 13 years

Veteran officer who stopped white officer from brutalizing Black suspect wins pension after 13 years

In 2006, former Buffalo Police Officer Cariol Horne, a 19-year-veteran of the force at the time, came upon a scene that tested her mettle as a law enforcement officer. Former officer Gregory Kwiatkowski, a white officer, was beating a Black suspect who was already in handcuffs. When Kwiatkowski began choking the restrained individual, Horne intervened. The resulting confrontation between the two Buffalo officers ended with Horne being punished and subsequently fired in 2008—one year shy of qualifying for her pension. Kwiatkowski received no professional blight at the time and was promoted to Lieutenant the same year Horne was fired. Horne, a mother of two, has spent the last 13 years fighting to receive her pension.

On Tuesday, The New York Times reports that “a state court judge vacated an earlier ruling that affirmed her firing.” This decision means that Horne is due backpay, benefits, and her pension. New York State Supreme Court Judge Dennis E. Ward quoted Martin Luther King Jr. in his decision, saying: “The time is always right to do right.” Ward went on to write: “The Legal system can at the very least be the mechanism to help justice prevail, even if belatedly. While the Eric Garners and George Floyds of the world never had a chance or a ‘do over,’ at least here the correction can be done.” 

After being run out of the police force, Horne provided for her family by taking on various jobs, including being a long hall truck driver. And while Horne did not receive the satisfaction she deserved for well over a decade, she didn’t stop fighting. She has made her life’s work being a thorn in the side of the corrupt Buffalo establishment while also trying to secure a piece of legislation called Cariol’s Law, which would protect police officers who try and do the right thing by compelling them to do the right thing. The law was finally approved this past September. Horne persevered even though most of her colleagues were bad apples.

Officer Cariol Horne and former Lt. Gregory Kwiatkowski in 2006.

An internal investigation cleared Officer Kwiatkowski of all charges; Ms. Horne was offered a four-day suspension, which she turned down. After hearings in 2007 and 2008, the Police Department found that her use of physical force against a fellow officer had not been justified.

She was fired in May 2008. Officer Kwiatkowski was promoted to lieutenant the same year.

To add insult to injury, Kwiatkowski sued Horne for defamation after she was pushed out of the department, and he won a $65,000 judgement against her. Kwiatkowski retired in 2011. Guess what? He was subsequently hit with charges and a prison sentence in 2018 for brutalizing four Black youths during a 2009 incident. During Kwiatkowski’s sentencing, Judge William M. Skretny told Kwiatkowski: “On that day, you disgraced yourself, you disgraced your family, you disgraced the uniform.” Skretny may not have realized that Kwiatkowski had disgraced all of those things over a decade earlier, and that the entire Buffalo Police Department and city officials had and continued to disgrace themselves in the resulting years. Bad apple Kwiatkowski still received his pension after serving out his sentence.

“My vindication comes at a 15-year cost, but what has been gained could not be measured. I never wanted another police officer to go through what I had gone through for doing the right thing.”

—Cariol Horne

Horne’s original claim for pension was denied by then New York Comptroller Alan Havesi. Havesi would resign from his position a few months later in disgrace for his connections to corruption. Havesi and other state officials’ dirty dealings eventually lead to Havesi striking a plea deal and being sentenced to one to four years in prison in April of 2011. Havesi served 20 months in prison and was released on parole for his corruption. 

Horne is now 53-years-old. After the decision, Horne told reporters: “My vindication comes at a 15-year cost, but what has been gained could not be measured. I never wanted another police officer to go through what I had gone through for doing the right thing.” 

The Black Lives Matter protests over the summer brought another round of national attention to the ever-present abuses of power in law enforcement. The true nature of the Buffalo Police Department was also brought under the national spotlight after rioting cops knocked over 75-year-old peaceful protester Martin Gugino on camera in broad daylight, seriously injuring him. Black Lives Matter protests helped to renew focus on Horne’s case and fight for a better police force.

Asked by ABC News about the renewed focus on her case and the protests stemming from the death of George Floyd, Horne said she knew her victory came at the “expense of George Floyd.” She said that Cariol’s Law, which was drafted in 2018, could have saved Floyd’s life as it would have compelled the many other officers around Derek Chauvin to be accountable for Floyd’s welfare.

You can watch the now-retired Horne tell ABC News about hearing the news that she had finally won some of her rightful earnings back.


From Daily Kos at Read More. This article is republished from DailyKos under an open content license. Read the original article at DailyKos.

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