• Horne was fired by Buffalo Police saying she put her fellow officers at risk
  • The judge said those police officers who intervene are now considered heroes
  • Horne was a steady presence in BLM protests after George Floyd died in Buffalo. 

Fourteen years after Buffalo police officer Cariol Horne stood up to a colleague who held a Black suspect in a deadly chokehold and subsequently getting herself fired, a court annulled the firing and ruled that she is entitled to her pension, benefits and back pay.

Horne, who was fired for intervening when a white colleague had a suspect in a chokehold during a 2006 arrest, was a steady presence in the Black Lives Matter protests triggered by the death of George Floyd under the knee of a white officer in Minneapolis in May 2020.

The New York State Supreme Court, vacating a 10-year-old ruling that upheld the officer's termination, invoked the recent protests in the 11-page ruling. Judge Dennis Ward said, "Recent events in the national news, including the death last year in the City of Minneapolis of George Floyd, who died from the unreasonable physical force being applied for over nine minutes, have sparked national outrage over the use of his practice."

"One of the issues in all of these cases is the role of other officers at the scene and particularly their complicity in failing to intervene to save the life of a person to whom such unreasonable physical force is being applied."

"To her credit, Officer Horne did not merely stand by, but instead sought to intervene, despite the penalty she ultimately paid for doing so," Ward said.

The court ruled that the city must reinstate Horne as a police officer between July 26, 2008 and August 4, 2010, and pay her back wages and benefits for that period. The city must also "make any required pension contributions for that period of time."

Horne said she heard a handcuffed suspect who was on a chokehold say he couldn't breathe, much like Floyd did later. Horne claimed her fellow officer punched her in the face. The Buffalo Police Department fired her in 2008, saying she had put her fellow officers at risk.

Even as Derek Chauvin, the officer accused in the Floyd case, went on trial, another officer in Minnesota shot down African-American Daunte Wright at a traffic stop.

The civil rights protests that rocked the country prompted the Buffalo Common Council last year to ask the New York state attorney general to take another look at Horne's case. Mayor Byron Brown announced that the 'Duty to Intervene' legislation was signed into law.

Called the 'Cariol's Law', it reiterates "a Buffalo Police Officer’s responsibility to intervene in a situation where they believe another officer is acting inappropriately or jeopardizing another person’s safety or well being."

Horne, who celebrated the ruling, told The Buffalo News that "she never wanted another police officer to go through what I had gone through for doing the right thing."

NYPD officer
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