A New York City police officer has been arrested, charged and released without bail on Thursday (June 25) after he used a banned chokehold to detain Ricky Bellevue in Queens on Sunday morning (June 21). Officer David Afanador, who was suspended without pay earlier this week, faces charges of strangulation and attempted strangulation.
According to authorities, police were called to the boardwalk for a report that a group of men were throwing objects at people and harassing them. Several cops were seen talking to Bellevue, who is Black, and two other men. After a few moments, the men began to curse at the officers. One of them filmed the incident with their cellphone.
According the NBC News, the police then asked the men to leave. “Yo, what are you guys doing? Listen, they told y’all to go enjoy the beach and go have a good day,” an officer said. One of the men in the group replied, “He can’t tell me where to go.”
In the video, Bellevue warns the officers not to touch them. He picked something up and asked the officers if they were “scared.” A few seconds later, he is taken down to the ground as several officers restrained him. Afanador appeared to have his arm wrapped around Bellevue’s neck while the other three officers attempt to handcuff him.
One bystander can be heard yelling at the officers, “He’s choking him! Let go!” After Afanador released his arm from around Bellevue’s neck, another bystander yelled, “He’s out, he’s out!”
Lori Zeno, Bellevue’s attorney, said Afanador should be fired and prosecuted. “It is important that we keep holding police officers accountable for their actions,” she said in a statement. “The officer involved here used a chokehold to strangle my client until he was unconscious, because according to the police officer, he was being disorderly.”
“He is the one who committed a crime in this circumstance,” the lawyer continued. “We will not stop until the people of Far Rockaway can feel safe as they travel through their own neighborhood. They should not fear the very people who are sworn to protect them.”
This isn’t Officer Afanador’s first run-in with the law. According to NBC New York, he has been sued at least four times. In 2014, he also faced criminal charges after he was accused of pistol-whipping a teenager and breaking two of his teeth.