Apr 26, 2021
The New York State Supreme Court recently reversed the firing of a black female officer, Cariol Horne, who tried to stop another cop from using a chokehold on a suspect 15 years before. The ruling reinstates Horne’s pension, back pay and other benefits.
Back in 2006, Horne was called to break up a dispute between a woman and a former boyfriend, Neal Mack, whom she had accused of stealing her Social Security check. The man was arrested and handcuffed.
But, when Mack, who is black, was being removed from his home, Horne intervened when the white officer repeatedly punched the handcuffed man in the face and put him in a chokehold. When the man said, "I can’t breathe," Horne yelled, "Leave him alone."
Horne grabbed the officer’s arm and tried to pull him off the suspect. For that, the 19-year veteran lost her job months before she was eligible to receive her full pension. "Neal Mack looked like he was about to die. So had I not stepped in, he possibly could have. He was handcuffed and being choked," Horne told CBS This Morning in June 2020.
What made these courts, after so many long years of bureaucratic dragging, reverse their decision, finally recognizing Horne’s actions as correct? The judge very clearly wrote about the reason: "Recent events in the national news, including the death last year in the City of Minneapolis of George Floyd, who died from unreasonable physical force being applied for over nine minutes, have sparked national outrage over the use of this practice." That is, because people in large numbers protested against the brutal and deadly force frequently used by the police, the court and the city had to finally change their mind.
The judge even praised Horne: "To her credit, Officer Horne did not merely stand by, but instead sought to intervene, despite the penalty she ultimately paid for doing so."
But, as these events and court decisions show, in the absence of mass protests, the police will resort to this brutal and deadly force as a standard practice. And if you are a reasonable cop trying to prevent this awful practice, you will get fired.