Eight years ago in Buffalo, New York, a Black female officer, Cariol Horne, was struck in the face by a white officer upset that she tried to intervene when he was punching and choking an already handcuffed Black suspect.
That single incident has come to mark the end of Horne’s 19-year police career. Because of her actions, she was fired and charged with obstruction. Essentially, she was marked and punished for trying to do the right thing—demonstrating just how difficult a task it might be in some departments to stop the prevalence of police brutality.
The two officers were responding to a report of a domestic disturbance between Neal Mack, the suspect, and his girlfriend on Nov. 1, 2006. Horne claims that officer Greg Kwiatkowski already had Mack in handcuffs when she entered the home.
“He was handcuffed in the front and he was sideways and being punched in the face by Gregory Kwiatkowski,” Horne told WKBW.
“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,” Horne recalled.
After pulling him off Mack, that’s when she said Kwiatkowski punched her in the face. Horne also injured her shoulder as other officers pulled her away as she tried to defend herself. She told WKBW she had to have her bridge replaced afterwards.
Despite all of that, Horne was punished for the incident.
Kwiatkowski was later forced into retirement after being suspended for choking an officer on the job and punching another in a separate incident off the clock.
In May 2014, he was indicted on federal civil rights violations for assaulting a group of Black teenagers in 2009, according to the Mail. US Attorney William J. Hochul Jr. said that Kwiatkowski and two other officers shot a Black teenager with a BB gun while he was handcuffed and inside the squad car. The charges against him carry a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
After multiple failed appeals, the woman who dedicated 19 years to the police force was without job and didn’t qualify for a pension, WKBW reported. Today, the former officer and mother of five is a truck driver.
Her case has been sent to be reviewed by the New York State retirement system.