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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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Headlines

Black Women Lead Initiative to Raise $100M for Black Girls and Women in the South

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The Southern Black Girls and Women’s Consortium is looking to raise $100 million in the next 10 years.

What We Know:

  • LaTosha Brown is one of the notable activists responsible for having a hand in turning Georgia into a blue state last election cycle. Brown is the co-founder of Black Votes Matter, the Black Voters Matter Fund, and the Black Voters Matter Capacity Building Institute. Another community that is joining this effort is Margo Miller. Miller is a Tennessee native is the executive director of the Appalachian Community Fund.
  • The Appalachian Community Fund is a non-profit looking to counter poverty and improve the lives of residents of Central Appalachia. Both Brown and Miller want to empower others to continue in their footsteps. Another member of the Southern Black Girls and Women Consortium is Felecia Lucky, who is the president of the Black Belt Community Foundation. Executive director of the Fund for Southern Communities, Alice Jenkins, is also a member.
  • The consortium has given itself the task of raising $100 million for Black women and girls over the next decade. As of today, they have already raised $10 million of that total and are in the process of raising more. Some of the funds have already been distributed to organizations in the form of grants. The group hosted a chat via their Twitter account, @Blackgirlsdream, on March 31st to discuss the state of women of color.
  • In an interview with theGrio, Brown expressed that their focus was on the South because the majority of Black people live in the South. The group of women designed listening sessions to learn Black Girl’s perceptions about themselves, their needs, their dreams, and the resources they need. The group then used this information to design funding approaches that ensure a fair distribution of funds.

The group hopes that their work will result in a shift in how Black girls in the South see themselves.

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Kansas Coach Fired for Using N-Word Toward Black Player

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The head baseball coach at Olathe North Highschool in Kansas has now been fired after using the N-word toward a Black player.

What We Know:

  • The father of student Tony Banks commented that he believes head coach Pete Flood was attempting to “derail” his son’s successful athletic career. Flood is now officially terminated from teaching in Olathe Public Schools after being suspended for a time period. The District recommended Flood’s termination on Friday. On Monday, the District board voted to fire him unanimously.
  • Banks’ son is the only Black player on Olathe North Highschools’ baseball team. His son was allegedly playing rap music during practice when Flood said to him, “We don’t play that N– music over here. We only play country and rock music.”
  • The coach claimed he was only referring to the music’s lyrics and not the student’s race. He goes on to say that he has never called anyone a racial slur in his 25 years of teaching nor in his personal life.
  • Flood has expressed regret in saying the N-word aloud but doesn’t regret telling the student to change the music. Banks expressed, “We really wanted to move beyond this. We’re not attention seekers.”
  • Olathe School Board President Joe Beveridge called Flood’s actions “inexcusable.” The Board of Education met in a special board meeting on Monday morning to discuss the situation. The conversation that took place wasn’t in doubt because there is no justification for a coach to talk to any student in that manner. Banks called other parents to contact Principal Janson Hermanon and Athletic Director Josh Price for Flood’s removal. Flood had been employed in the school district since 1996.

Pete Flood started as Olathe North’s head baseball coach at the beginning of this school year.

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Crime

7 People Dead In Colorado Birthday Party Shooting

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According to authorities, a lone gunman opened fire at a birthday party on Sunday, killing six before killing himself.

What We Know:

  • Shortly after midnight, the shooting took place in a mobile home park on the east side of Colorado Springs. Officers responded to a call at 12:18 a.m. and arrived at the trailer to find six adults dead, according to NPR. Another man with serious injuries was found who later died at the hospital.
  • In what Colorado Springs Mayor John Suthers called “a senseless act of violence,” the shooter entered the mobile home and opened fire. Family friends and children were gathered inside the trailer, but no children were hurt in the shooting. Police say the suspected shooter was the boyfriend of one of the female guests at the party.
  • Gladis Bustos, who lives near where the shooting happened, described the night as quiet before the commotion happened. Bustos said the incident was “a bad, traumatic experience for everyone.” Another neighbor, Denise Knoll, was left speechless by the events. “There’s not really any words, you know? Why people do things like this, I just don’t get it,” said Knoll to NBC.
  • Colorado Gov. Jared Polis called the Mother’s Day shooting “devastating,” offering his condolences to the victims’ families. Colorado Springs Police Chief Vince Niski said in a statement a shooting of this kind is something you hope never happens in your community and that the police department would do everything in its power to investigate what happened.
  • The tragic incident in Colorado Springs is the first mass shooting in the state since March. During that incident, ten people were killed when a gunman walked into a grocery store and opened fire. The 1999 shooting at Columbine High School remains one of the most notable mass shootings in the state and nation’s history.

The identities of those killed in the shooting have not yet been released, and the investigation is ongoing. Colorado Springs is the second-largest city in the state after Denver.

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