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Former Black New York officer, Cariol Horne, was finally vindicated for being wrongfully terminated. A judge reversed an earlier ruling that affirmed Horne’s firing on Tuesday, April 13, 2021. In 2006, she stopped Officer Gregory Kwiatkowski — who she felt was “in a rage” — from using a chokehold on a Black man who was handcuffed at the time.
Upon physically removing the White officer from his hold on the suspect when the man said he could not breathe — they began to exchange punches. Horne was the only officer to step in when she saw the colleague using excessive force. Everyone else just stood around and watch the situation unfold.
She was reassigned after the altercation. The department then hit her with charges and eventually fired her. Due to the department firing her just one year before she reached 20 years on the force. This caused her to lose her full pension and benefits.
Throughout the years, Horne has attempted numerous times to have the decision reversed. in 2020, her legal team announced they were filing a motion to have her pension reinstated. Her lawyer said:
I think we’ve well laid out the case for restoring what was taken away from Cariol, restoring her pension, doing something to correct the wrong from all those many years ago, and we await the judge’s decision with confidence that we can see a just outcome.
Mayor Byron Brown wrote a letter to the State Attorney General — Letitia James — asking for Horne’s pension to be restored. James stated that she had not been in office long enough to be able to legally receive the mayor’s request.
On April 13, 2021, Justice Dennis E. Ward — the judge who overturned the decision for Horne — wrote, “The legal system can at the very least be a mechanism to help justice prevail, even if belatedly.” Ward added, “The time is always right to do right.”
Horne has fought for 15 years to be vindicated. She stated that she never wants another “officer to go through what I had gone through for doing” what was right.
Written by Sheena Robertson
The New York Times: Court Vindicates Black Officer Fired for Stopping Colleague’s Chokehold
WBRZ: Cariol Horne files lawsuit seeking pension from New York State
Featured and Top Image Courtesy Sarah Hina’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License