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Ex-Buffalo Officer Fired for Reporting Chokehold to Receive Pension after Lawsuit Win

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Officer Cariol Horne stopped coworker Greg Kwiatkowski from applying excessive force on suspect Neal Mack during a chokehold in 2006. The Buffalo Police Department (BPD) proceeded to fire Horne after a hearing before an arbitrator in 2008. Horne received justice on Tuesday; State Supreme Court Judge Dennis Ward annulled her removal and confirmed entitlement to her pension. She will receive benefits and backpay through August 4, 2010.

What We Know:

  • Horne and Kwiatkowski traveled to a domestic situation in 2006. Mack’s ex-girlfriend was accusing him of stealing her $626 Social Security check. He became violent with officers as they arrested him; the police pepper-sprayed the house. Horne testified she was one of the police that pushed Mack out. She also recalled that other officers began struggling with Mack. Kwiatkowski put Mack into a chokehold. Kwiatkowski kept him there for a while, even as Mack said he could not breathe. Horne took physical measures to make sure Mack survived, such as jumping on Kwiatkowski’s back. After the incident, officials asked Horne to take a four-day suspension. Horne insisted she had a hearing, even if it meant she could possibly be fired.
  • In May 2008, she was found guilty on 11 of the 13 internal charges raised against her at the arbitrator hearing. The hearing officer claimed Horne created a substantial danger to Mack and everyone else involved in the incident. The official also stated her use of physical force against Kwiatkowski was “unwarranted” and could have had fatal consequences.
  • At the time, she had been a police officer for 19 years. To retire under the state system and receive a full pension, she needed to spend 20 years on the force. Although removed from the department, Horne could still qualify for a partial pension from the state at 55-years-old. Regardless, Horne wanted her full benefits and spent 15 years trying to overturn her dismissal.
  • Her previous attempts failed, as the courts defended Kwiatkowski and BPD. Erie County District Attorney Frank J. Clark reviewed the case but agreed with the police. Additionally, State Supreme Court Justice Joseph G. Makowski supported Buffalo in a court battle over whether her hearing was legal. Horne also lost to Kwiatkowski in a 2011 defamation suit and had to pay $65,000 in damages.
  • Horne took the case back to court with new lawyers. Her legal team included Ronald Sullivan and Intisar Rabb of Harvard Law School. Previously, Sullivan and his team represented Michael Brown’s family. The firm Kirkland & Ellis also defended her.
  • Ward said recent events determined his decision. He wrote an 11-page ruling in which he mentions the cases of George Floyd and Eric Garner. He states that in most of these situations, the other officers at the scene fail to intervene and save someone from unreasonable physical force. Furthermore, he went on to say police who interrupt in these circumstances are heroes.

“While the Eric Garners and the George Floyds of the world never had a chance for a “do-over,” at least here the correction can be done,” Ward declared.

  • Horne told CNN she is “getting there” in feeling vindicated. She will maintain pushing for accountability in police departments. “If everyone is not vindicated then I’m not vindicated,” she affirmed.

Buffalo recently enacted a law drafted by Horne and attorneys. Cariol’s Law will require officers to step in when they see their colleague using unnecessary force on a suspect. This overturn brings the hope that more law enforcement agents will step up and stop violent acts like this.

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Entertainment

Former NFL Champ Nate Burleson joins CBS Mornings

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Former NFL player Nate Burleson has officially made his hosting debut on the newly branded morning talk show, CBS Mornings.

What We Know:

  • It was announced earlier this month that Burleson would replace Anthony Mason. Previously Mason joined Gayle King and Tony Doukoupil as host of the former CBS This Morning.  The show was rebranded in tandem to the relocation of their set to Times Square and Burleson joining the cast.
  • Since 2017, former NFL player Burleson has been the host of Good Morning Football on the NFL Network and has served as an analyst on The NFL Today on CBS. Burleson will continue his role on The NFL Today.

  • Burleson is the second former NFL player to join a network morning TV show, with Michael Strahan playing a major role as a co-host on ABC‘s Good Morning America.

Burleson credits Michael Strahan as the ‘blueprint’ for his career path, explaining, “He’s one of those individuals that I took a liking to once I retired because he rewrote the blueprint. I don’t want to say that he is the blueprint, because there has been plenty of players that have transitioned out of the game into TV. There have been African American men and women before him that have done the same thing, but he is a guy that has shown me the lay of the land, especially being a transplant from the West Coast to now New York.”

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Crime

Classes canceled at Howard University as US Government investigates ransomware cyberattack

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Howard University officials along with leading cyber experts are trying to assess what has been compromised in an active ransomware, cyberattack on the HBCU campus. Officials have deemed the attack criminal.

What We Know:

  • Monday, the university issued a statement to faculty and students that “the service disruption was caused by a ransomware cyberattack against the university.”
  • Classes have been canceled for Tuesday and Wednesday. Students have been notified that online and hybrid classes will remain canceled and only essential staff will be allowed on campus. All in-person undergraduate, graduate, professional, and clinical experiential courses will resume as scheduled on Wednesday.
  • A ransomware attack can be triggered by simple, everyday activity. Opening a unintended link inside of can lead to a cyberattack.  Computer, tablet and phone users are encouraged to change their passwords and security questions regularly.

Howard University is home to several notable high profile Black alumni such as Chadwick Boseman and Phylicia Rashad.

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Headlines

Polo G Reportedly Arrested in Los Angeles on Concealed Weapon Charge

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Polo G was arrested on in Los Angeles on Monday, TMZ reports.

What We Know:

According to the outlet, Polo G was arrested after police allegedly found a concealed firearm on the Hall of Fame rapper, which TMZ points out is a felony. The supposed discovery of the firearm occurred when a vehicle Polo G was a passenger in was stopped.

It’s currently unclear why the vehicle was pulled over in the first place but it was reported that a male juvenile was also detained during the stop.

Polo was similarly arrested while he was in Miami for his Hall of Fame album release party. The arrest, which took place back in June, resulted in the rapper getting hit with charges of of battery on a police officer, resisting arrest with violence, and criminal mischief. The rapper was also a passenger in a vehicle at the time of that arrest.

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