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Judge rules against 2008 firing of Black police officer who stopped white officer's chokehold

A judge in New York ruled this week in favor a Black police officer from Buffalo who was accused of improperly using force against a fellow officer when she traded blows with a white officer who was putting a handcuffed Black man into a chokehold while he shouted that he couldn't breathe.

The New York Times reported that Justice Dennis Ward vacated a previous court ruling upholding the ouster of former officer Cariol Horne, who was fired in 2008 after forcibly separating another former officer, Gregory Kwiatkowski, from the unnamed suspect during a domestic theft call.

As part of the ruling Tuesday, Horne will be granted back pay and benefits. City council members previously voted last year for a resolution urging Letitia James, the state's attorney general, to examine the case.

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“My vindication comes at a 15-year cost, but what has been gained could not be measured,” Horne told the Times. “I never wanted another police officer to go through what I had gone through for doing the right thing.”

“Her conduct should have been encouraged and instead she was fired,” Horne's attorney added to the Times.

Kwiatkowski was promoted to lieutenant the same year Horne was fired, according to the newspaper, but went on to leave law enforcement after he pleaded guilty in a federal civil rights case stemming from a 2009 incident in which he admitted to using excessive force against four Black teenagers during a traffic stop, and spent four years in prison.

In the years since Horne was fired, Buffalo would pass a law requiring officers to intervene if they see a fellow member of law enforcement using excessive force against a suspect.

Not all of the judgements resulting from the incident were reversed on Tuesday; in a separate case that remains unvacated, Horne was found guilty of defaming Kwiatkowski, resulting in a $65,000 judgement.