Former Buffalo, NY police officer Cariol Horne, retroactively will receive more than a decade’s worth of back pay and a full pension
The ex-Buffalo cop who is Black stopped a white officer from choking handcuffed Black suspect gets pension back 13 years after being fired
Cariol Horne, a 53-year-old Black mother-of-five, intervened in 2006 to stop her white colleague, Greg Kwiatkowski, who was violently arresting a Black suspect, Neal Mack
Buffalo Police Dept ruled in Kwiatkowski’s favor in a 2007 internal investigation, and Horne was fired in 2008
Horne was terminated one year shy of the 20 years of service needed to retire with a full pension
Horne has fought her firing ever since, even after a 2010 appeal ended in Kwiatkowski’s favor
Although Horne’s legal case was considered finished, momentum turned in her favor when Kwiatkowski pled guilty in 2014 to assaulting four handcuffed Black teenagers by slamming their heads into his patrol car in 2009
He was convicted convicted of deprivation of rights under color of law
Kwiatkowski spent four months in jail on that convictio, but was allowed to resume his pension after serving his jail term
He had been forced to retire earlier, after he was suspended for choking another officer on the job, and in a separate incident, punching another officer when he was off the clock
A former up state New York police officer who fought a fellow cop who put a handcuffed suspect in a chokehold will receive more than a decade’s worth of back pay and a full pension. She was fired for trying to stop a fellow officer she said was abusing a suspect.
Cariol Horne has maintained that she she was fired for stopping a colleague’s chokehold. She will get full reistitution from the city of Buffalo, New York after a judge vacated a previous decision and ruled in her favor Tuesday.
Cariol J. Horne, a 53-year-old Black woman, intervened in 2006 to stop a white colleague, Greg Kwiatkowski, who was violently arresting a Black suspect, Neal Mack. In the aftermath the former Buffalo Police officer has been in a battle to get her pension.
“November 1, 2006, there was a call of an officer in trouble at 707 Walden,” Cariol Horne told Buffalo ABC affiliate WBKW in 2014.
That officer was Gregory Kwiatkowski, who was responding to a domestic dispute inside that home between Neal Mack and his girlfriend.
By the time she got into the house Horne said, Mack had already been placed under arrest, but was been assaulted: “He was handcuffed in the front and he was sideways and being punched in the face by Gregory Kwiatkowski,” explained Horne.
Horne and 10 other police officers who arrived at the scene helped drag Mack out of the home. But once outside Horne recounts, Officer Kwiatkowski was out of control: “Gregory Kwiatkowski turned Neal Mack around and started choking him. So then I’m like, ‘Greg! You’re choking him,’ because I thought whatever happened in the house he was still upset about so when he didn’t stop choking him I just grabbed his arm from around Neal Mack’s neck,” said Horne.
That did not calm the raging officer because next, Kwiatkowski attacked her: “He comes up and punches me in the face and I had to have my bridge replaced,” said Horne.
When Horne tried to defend herself other officers pulled her back and her shoulder was injured.
Regardless of who instigated the fight, following the incident Horne was fired and charged with obstruction for “jumping on officer Kwiatkowski’s back and/or striking him with her hands.”
The Buffalo Police Department ruled in Kwiatkowski’s favor in a 2007 internal investigation, and Horne was fired in 2008. She was terminated one year shy of the 20 years of service needed to retire with a full pension.
Horne a mother of five children, now working as a truck driver to make ends meet, has fought her firing ever since, even after a 2010 appeal ended in Kwiatkowski’s favor.
While Horne’s legal case was considered finished, momentum turned in her favor when former Buffalo police lieutenant Gregory Kwiatkowski in 2014 was convicted after pleading guilty to assaulting four handcuffed Black teenagers by slamming their heads into his patrol car, back in 2009.
He served four months in jail for that conviction.
Horne’s situation came under renewed scutiny in June 2020, shortly after the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis sparked worldwide protests. Buffalo Supreme Court Justice Dennis Ward ruled in Horne’s favor Tuesday, citing both Kwiatkowski’s history of violence and Floyd’s killing as influences on the case.
“The time is always right to do right,” Ward wrote in the decision, paraphrasing Martin Luther King Jr.
“While the Eric Garners and George Floyds of the world never had a chance for a ‘do over,’ at least here the correction can be done,” Judge Ward stated in his decision.
The city of Buffalo reportedly, has no plans to appeal the decision. Kwiatkowski meanwhile, stood by his version of the incident, telling washpo, “I guess if you tell a lie long enough, it eventually becomes the truth.”
Kwiatkowski was forced to retire from the Buffalo police department after he was suspended for choking another officer on the job, and in a separate incident, punching another officer when he was off the clock.
In May 2014, Kwiatowkski and two other officers were indicted on federal civil rights violations against black teen suspects. He was convicted of deprivation of rights under color of law, was sentenced to serve four months in prison. He was also sentenced to one year supervised release to include four months home detention.
During that incident, Kwiatkowski who called the four Black youths “savage dogs,” amongst other things, slammed their faces into the hood of a car. The city of Buffalo subsequently paid out a settlement to two of the kids.
Kwiatkowski however, was allowed to resume receiving his pension after serving his sentence.
In October 2020, Buffalo passed “Cariol’s Law,” which requires other officers to intervene if a cop is harming someone. The judge in his decision, also cited the law, saying that it showed how the city “already determined that Officer Horne intervened to save the life of a civilian.”