Former Buffalo police officer Cariol Horne tried to do the right thing back in 2006. In 2006, a white police officer Horne was working with began choking a handcuffed Black suspect. Horne pulled that officer off of the suspect and was summarily fired for her protection of a Buffalo citizen. At the time, Horne was called out for what higher ups called her “extreme lack of professionalism.” The white police officer said that Horne had jumped on him, and Horne was unable to get legal satisfaction as other police officers on the scene refused to back up her story. At the time, Horne was a 19-year veteran who was one year away from earning her pension. Horne lost her police pension. She has since tried and failed numerous times to get her pension reinstated.
The white officer, former Lt. Gregory Kwiatkowski, went on to abuse more Buffalo citizens. In 2018 after Kwiatkowski had retired, he was sentenced to four months prison time and four months home confinement for his brutality against four Black teens back in 2009. During that incident, Kwiatkowski called the four Black youths “savage dogs,” amongst other things. He slammed their faces into the hood of a car. The city of Buffalo subsequently paid out a settlement to two of the kids. Kwiatkowski was allowed to resume receiving his pension after serving his sentence.
Horne, the mother of three boys, took a few jobs, including as a long distance truck driver, and continued to run into various stresses from Buffalo city agencies. Last year, Horne was evicted from her apartment. She has pointed to her public outspokenness on the police department as the source and motivation of these problems. Horne’s petition to keep her pension was originally denied by disgraced former New York Comptroller Alan Havesi. Havesi resigned a couple of months after denying Horne’s pleas for pension. His resignation was due to his part in a pay-to-play scheme going on with the state’s pension fund. Just so many bad apples.
But even as the state’s apparatus of justice has continued to press its weight down on Horne, she has not stopped fighting. According to The Washington Post, Horne has been trying since 2016 to get Cariol’s Law passed at state and local levels. The statute that Horne worked with her attorneys to draw up would protect law enforcement officers who speak out against fellow officers’ abuses. Since the killings of Breonna Taylor and George Floyd Horne prompted widespread protests against police misconduct, Horne has protested every single day since Floyd was killed by Minneapolis Metro Police.
On Tuesday, The Buffalo News reported that Buffalo City Council members have asked the attorney general’s office to open an investigation into Horne’s original incident, as well as look into a dispute over the days Horne argued she had worked, in order to receive her pension. This comes after the council met to discuss how the city can ensure that “the duty to intervene” policy is not only followed, but effective.
The Buffalo Police Department has been brought into the national conversation about police because of their truly despicable brutalizing of protesters, specifically 75-year-old peaceful protester Martin Gugino, who was knocked to the floor and injured by a crew of cowards in riot gear. Trump and the right wing of the country can try to pretend that the fascist practices and tendencies of our country’s law enforcement agencies are the only things between us and anarchy, but the videos are in: The only chaos being created is the result of an overmilitarized police force that is lacking in accountability and racist to the core.
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