In 2006 then Police Officer Cariol Horne stopped the “legal lynching” of an African American man at the hands of a fellow White officer. As a reward she herself was legally “lynched” – stripped of her job and her pension . A community activist, she is currently working to get Cariol’s Law on the books to keep police officers who interrupt police brutality, safe from retaliation.
On May 25, 2020, the country was shaken by the killing of George Floyd by now former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin.
Although the sight of Mr. Floyd’s last minutes was traumatizing, there was also a significant observation that can’t be missed. Officer Chauvin was accompanied by three fellow officers. Officers when present, are responsible for the safety and well being of all citizens, including those in police custody. However, when a police officer sees another police officer acting outside their training, they should feel empowered to intervene without the fear of retaliation.
In 2006 Cariol H. Horne was that police officer when she stopped officer Gregory Kwiatkowski from choking a handcuffed African-American man, Neal Mack, whom he had placed in a deadly choke-hold during an arrest on Walden Avenue. Mack, she recalls, who had been sprayed with mace and in handcuffs, was struggling to breathe. Her actions very possibly saved his life. During the encounter, Ms. Horne was physically assaulted by her fellow officer; an assult which had a physical and psychological impact. Her reward?
Cariol, who served Buffalo, New York, as a police officer for nearly two decades, faced retaliation and termination.
Ironically and sadly, the Mayor of the city at that time was Black; the chief of police was Black; and the Deputy police officer who fired her, was Black (Byron Brown is still the mayor and Byron Lockwood, who was the deputy, is now the chief of police. McCarthy Gibson at the time was the police chief).
Ms. Horne speaks of how PTSD has interrupted her life since this incident and how speaking out has impacted her livelihood. Although the officer that physically assaulted her served jail time due to another physical altercation, he wasstill able to receive his pension when released, while she was not. And Cariol, her children, and now her grandchildlren, she says, are still targeted by the local police.
Cariol Horne is truly a survivor and a visionary. She has been working to get a legislation called “Cariol’s Law” passed as a state, and eventually a federal, law.
Cariol’s Law would basically protect officers who stand up for police brutality. It is a mandatory stature to require police (on or off duty) to intervene and stop imminent abuse being performed by fellow police officers that may result in significant injury or death to a citizen and be protected from retaliation, abuse, or reassignment.
Writes Cariol: “This law will empower police officers to do the right thing, all the time…”