A black police officer named Cariol Horne was fired from the Buffalo Police Department in 2006 after stopping a white coworker from using a chokehold on a suspect. As police reform efforts spread across the nation, the Buffalo Common Council now wants to investigate Horne’s termination.
“The message was sent that you don’t cross that blue line and so some officers — many officers don’t,” Horne reflected during an interview with CNN on Tuesday (June 16).
When she was fired, Horne had served 19 of the 20 years required to be eligible for a police officer pension. Upon her termination, the city decided that she would not receive her pension.
“I don’t want any officer to go through what I have gone through,” Horne said. “I had five children and I lost everything but [Neal Mack] did not lose his life. So, if I have nothing else to live for in life, at least I can know that I did the right thing and that [he] still breathes.”
This week, the Buffalo Common Council submitted a resolution to the New York Attorney General’s Office to investigate Horne’s firing. The council’s resolution mentions the recent death of George Floyd, who was killed when ex-Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin kneeled down on his neck. Floyd’s death and his last words “I can’t breathe” follow several other fatal chokeholds used by officers, such as in the police killing of Eric Garner.
“There is a responsibility to propose special protections for individual police officers who intervene to protect citizens from excessive use of force situations involving their other officers,” the resolution reads.
The council further calls upon the Buffalo Police Department to train officers in the “Duty To Intervene” policy within the next 30 days. Minneapolis added this policy to its police department back in 2016, which requires officers to “either stop or attempt to stop another sworn employee when force is being inappropriately applied or is no longer required.”
The resolution also calls for the Buffalo police to see if there were any attendance discrepancies during Horne’s career so she can finally receive her pension.
“We now have a totally different attorney general, we have a total different climate and atmosphere and lens right now, across this world, as it deals with policing in the United States,” Buffalo Common Council President Darius Pridgen told CNN affiliate WIVB. “So, I think it’s an opportune time to look back at this case and to see were there civil rights violations can she be made whole.”
Horne is hopeful that the resolution will set a precedent of intervening on excessive police force and allow her to get her pension.
“I hope that the mayor does the right thing because, like I said, no officer should go through what I’ve gone through for doing the right thing,” she said.