A Black officer in Buffalo, New York, who was removed in 2008 for intervening when a White colleague employed a hold will be given back pay and a pension, a New York judge ruled. The officer, Cariol Horne, was removed following a 2006 incident in which she tried to stop an officer from using a grip on a detain suspect.
Horne served on the Buffalo po-lice force for 19 of the 20 years required to receive a pension.
“The message was sent that you don’t cross that blue line and so some officers — many officers don’t,” Horne said in a 2020 interview with CNN’s Brianna Keilar. “I had five children and I lost everything but [the suspect] did not lose his life,” Horne said then. “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.” Tuesday’s ruling restored Horne’s pension and vacated an earlier court ruling upholding her dismissal.
When asked by CNN’s Don Lemon on Wednesday whether she felt vindicated by the ruling, she said, “It’s getting there.” She added, “If everyone is not vindicated then I’m not vindicated,” saying she would continue to push for accountability in departments. CNN reached out to the city on Wednesday but received no immediately reply. Michael J. DeGeorge, spokesman for Buffalo, told the Buffalo News: “The City has always supported any additional judicial review available to Officer Horne and respects the court’s decision.” Neither the Buffalo Po-lice Department nor the Buffalo Po-lice Benevolent Association immediately responded to a request for comment.
“The legal system can at the very least be the mechanism to help justice prevail, even if belatedly,” Erie County Supreme Court Judge Dennis E. Ward wrote in his decision. Ward referenced the cases of George Floyd — who lost his life after a Minneapolis officer pressed his knee on his neck for nearly nine-and-a-half minutes — and Eric Garner– the New York man who lost his life after being placed in a grip– among other charge instances of excessive force by officer. “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,” Ward wrote.
Ward referenced Buffalo lawmakers who penned a law obligating officers to intervene in instances of excessive force and named the legislation after Horne. In so doing, Ward wrote, the city “has thus already determined that Officer Horne intervened to save the life of a civilian. Horne addressed the court decision in a statement issued through her attorney. “My vindication comes at a 15 year cost, but what has been gained could not be measured,” she said.
“I never wanted another Officer to go through what I had gone through for doing the right thing.” She called on lawmakers nationwide to pass similar legislation to Buffalo’s “Cariol’s Law,” which obligates officers to intervene and seeks to legally protect those who do.
Speaking to Lemon, Horne said the law will “punish an officer if they don’t intervene” and that for officers, “If you feel like you’re going to break the law, you won’t break it, or at least you shouldn’t break it.”
Heidi ELbediwy – That in itself shows corruption, how disgusting she had to even loose what she worked hard for and earned because she did the right thing
Nancy Hall – Good for her! She persevered and won… I hope she gets her pension WITH interest!
Beatrice Wallace – Good, she tried to do the right thing and they fir-ed her, this is one of the reasons, The Good Cops keep quiet, when they see the bad Cops doing something, that goes against their Training and the Law.
Manni Ennin – Big lesson to learn from this good news. Justice thrives on patience. No matter how long it takes, no matter how painful it hurts, just be patient and seek justice through the courts.
It’s the surest way out.
Sydney Freeston – Good!!! We need to reward, not punish, the cops that stand up for what’s right. That’s the only way we will see more of it.