Police in Buffalo, New York, made headlines recently after a video showed officers shoving a 75-year-old man to the ground, causing him to bleed out of his ear and crack his skull. In the aftermath, there has been increased scrutiny of law enforcement officers and their past actions, particularly when it comes to how they handle instances of police brutality.
One story that reemerged involved Black police officer Cariol Horne.
Horne was fired by the Buffalo Police Department in 2008 after she stopped white officer Gregory Kwiatkowski from putting a man they were arresting in a chokehold in 2006, WGRZ reported.
The story gained national prominence after recent protests, and the Buffalo Common Council is now asking the state's Attorney General Letitia James to look into the case. The council voted on the action this week and are waiting to hear back from James.
The outstanding situation has brought more criticism to the doorstep of the Buffalo Police Department, considering officials said Horne was endangering Kwiatkowski by not allowing him to physically restrain the unnamed man.
"Now with so much attention being on the present and what some officers have done negatively, it is very difficult for some people to move forward if we have not repaired the past," Buffalo Common Council President Darius Pridgen said.
NBC News reported that Horne spent 19 years with the Buffalo Police Department and was fired just one year before she became eligible to receive her pension.
According to WGRZ, Horne spent two years fighting the department in an arbitration process after stopping Kwiatkowski.
"If she did what she did 13 years ago, if she did it today, how would it be viewed? And I think it would be viewed a lot differently," Pridgen said.
Horne spoke to The Washington Post about her experience in Buffalo since the video of 75-year-old Martin Gugino being shoved went viral and racked up more than 100 million views.
“I always say that if I had to do it again, I would,” she said.
Horne's case has put a spotlight on police conduct after the police killing of George Floyd, who died after officers looked on while former officer Derek Chauvin pressed his knee in Floyd's neck for almost 10 minutes.
Many questioned why more officers don't do the right thing and step in when an officer is too violent. But Horne told The Post that her situation is what happens to officers who do anything to disrupt the status quo.
Horne said that in 2006, she simply grabbed Kwiatkowski's arm to stop him from choking the man. But the other officers nearby said she jumped on Kwiatkowski's back. Just a few years later, Kwiatkowski would go on to slam the heads of four Black teenagers into his police car — an act that he spent four months in prison for.
After sentencing Kwiatkowski to prison for abusing the teens, U.S. District Judge William Skretny said, "On that day, you disgraced yourself, you disgraced your family, you disgraced the uniform. You've lost the honor and privilege of being one of the good guys."
Since her firing, Horne has become an advocate against police brutality and has worked tirelessly to get "Cariol’s Law" passed at the state level. According to The Post, the law would give some protection to officers who speak out against fellow officers who abuse their power or harm suspects.
The law has had trouble getting passed, and Horne is still widely reviled by Buffalo police officers. She attended a protest in Buffalo last week where officers cursed and booed her.
Many across the country were astonished when 57 Buffalo police officers resigned from the Emergency Response Team because officers Robert McCabe and Aaron Torgalski were charged with assault for pushing and injuring Gugino.
Horne told The Post that if police “are going to back out when you have an officer stop police brutality, and they step up when you have officers knocking over 75-year-old men, then we have a big problem in Buffalo, New York.”
Gugino's skull was fractured, and he is unable to walk, according to WIVB. The incident went national when President Donald Trump referenced conspiracy theories being pushed by Russian websites claiming Gugino was intentionally looking to be injured.
"Buffalo protester shoved by Police could be an ANTIFA provocateur. 75 year old Martin Gugino was pushed away after appearing to scan police communications in order to black out the equipment. @OANN I watched, he fell harder than was pushed. Was aiming scanner. Could be a set up?" Trump wrote on Twitter.
The New York attorney general’s office has not commented on whether it will look into Horne's case, but Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown has thrown cold water on the effort. He said he tried to get Horne's pension back but the attorney general’s office refused.
"My thoughts is that was more than 12 years ago. In that 12-year period of time, I think a different telling of history is happening from what happened at that time. I didn't terminate her, she went through a process she called for and was terminated," Brown told WGRZ.