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Officer Cariol Horne Denied Pension

Officer Down – Officer Needs Assistance!

That's a call over a police radio that causes every officer to perk up, reach to activate their vehicle’s red lights and siren, and start driving like mad men. Show me rolling “Code-3” in the direction of "downed" former Buffalo, New York, police officer Cariol Horne.

As an honorably retired 20-year veteran sergeant of the Los Angeles Police Department, I know first-hand exactly what it feels like to stand on the threshold of unemployment during the twilight of your career. Like Horne, I faced a similar circumstance during year 18 of my LAPD career.

In 2006,with 19 years on the Buffalo, New York, Police Department, Cariol Horne was terminated for trying to stop a fellow officer, Gregory Kwiatkowski, from choking a handcuffed suspect, Neal Mack. Horne did what most of us would expect by attempting to stop a partner officer from assaulting a handcuffed suspect. For her troubles, Horne was punched several times in the face by partner officer Kwiatkowski, an assault that required that her bridge be replaced.

According to Horne, as she tried to stop the punching and choking by Kwiatkowski, 10 or so other officers on the scene began to pull Horne away from Kwiatkowski, which resulted in further injury, this time to Horne's shoulder.

Horne was later charged by the Buffalo Police Department for "jumping on Kwiatkowski’s back and/or striking him with her hands.” Note that when interviewed, Kwiatkowski said, “she never got on top of me.”

So why then was Horne fired? My guess it's because she did not have her cart hitched to the right horse. My guess it's because she did not enjoy the same pale privilege that Kwiatkowski enjoyed. My guess is that those ten officers at the scene were part of the [wolf] pack mentality and sided with Kwiatkowski. That's the same wolfpack mentality we witnessed in the murder of Eric Garner -- you know, where scores of police officers, including a supervisor, stand around and do nothing while police misconduct is committed in their presence.

Well, Horne was subsequently fired for "obstruction" and has reportedly lost every appeal of her termination, thus losing her pension.

I know a little bit about this wolfpack mentality and the police culture where the good ole boys “back” one another. As a young black female rookie officer, I had a training officer place me in a twist lock (pain compliance hold taught by LAPD) by grabbing my wrist and twisting it and my arm behind my back with sufficient force to cause me to stand from a seated position and stretch up on my tip-toes to relieve the pain.

This assault, by my training officer, happened to me in the report writing room at Southwest Police Station in 1981. Watching and doing nothing were at least six or seven white, male training officers. But for the intervention of a black male police officer who just happened to be in the room, I don’t know what my training officer might have done to me that evening.

Because I did not bleed blue, I had to adapt to navigate the sexist, racist LAPD waters all around me for the next 19 years. I had to learn to turtle up.

Why, you ask? Because I wanted to get something to eat. My training officer was a male, Asian, and he had forbidden me to eat during our shift, saying, “as far as I’m concerned, a probationer can eat out of the vending machine.” (Note: this and other racist encounters are included in my autobiography, The Creation of a Manifesto, Black & Blue).

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Luckily, unlike Horne, I was not disciplined for insubordination, as many of the male white police officers wanted; however, my training officer was suspended for five days without pay.

It was at this moment I knew I would never bleed blue. And because I did not bleed blue, I had to adapt to navigate the sexist, racist LAPD waters all around me for the next 19 years. I had to learn to turtle up.

Disparaging treatment by a few of my white male partners and looking the other way by some of my supervisors no longer surprised me. Like Horne, my next challenge would come during year eighteen in my LAPD career.

Officer Cariol Horne Denied Pension

Officer Gregory Kwiatkowski

So whatever happened to Kwiatkowski? Well, I can tell you what did not happen to Kwiatkowski back in 2006 after he allegedly choked a handcuffed suspect. He was not fired. Kwiatkowski lived to offend again.

That's just like former Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson, who after having been fired by Jennings Police Department, went on to work as a police officer in Ferguson, only to later shoot and kill Mike Brown. Wilson was gifted with a "resignation" for his troubles. And like Tim Loehmann, who was allowed to "resign" from Independence Police Department before being hired by Cleveland Police Department and later fatally shooting 12-year-old Tamir Rice. And like officer Andrew Daniel, who was allowed to "resign" from the California Highway Patrol after repeatedly punching MMA-style Marlene Pinnock in the head -- she a grandmother -- on the side of the Santa Monica Freeway. And like NYPD officer Daniel Pantaleo, who used a prohibited chokehold on Eric Garner, killing him. Athough Pantaleo has not been fired, he has been sued three times for civil rights violations. All of these seemingly unfit police officers lived to offend again and again.

So finally, “in May 2014 Kwiatkowski and two other officers were indicted for federal civil rights violations against African-American teen suspects” Only then did Kwiatowski receive the gift that keeps on giving. He was "forced to retire" [that usually means in lieu of termination].

And what about fired officer Cariol Horne? Despite failed appeals, Horne is currently awaiting a decision from the New York State retirement system on her request to have her pension restored. I wonder if Kwiatkowski had to “fight” for his pension when he was “forced to retire”?

More-from-Cheryl-Dorsey

This is the stuff that could lead to the creation of a manifesto. While I do not condone the actions of Christopher Dorner, I understand. Dorner was a black, LAPD police officer who had been fired by the department and then fought for years to restore his good name. After years of lost appeals for reported false allegations that had been used as justification for his firing, Dorner snapped. Only now, nearly two years after his death in the San Bernardino mountains, at the hands of law enforcement, a LAPD survey of its officers seem to corroborate [some of] Dorner’s claims.

Rather than sitting around and waiting, hoping and praying that the New York State Retirement System gets it right, why don't we flood their offices with letters of support and recommendation for reinstatement of Buffalo Police Officer Cariol Horne's pension?

Clearly, the Buffalo Police Department acted in a manner that has become all to familiar: they circled the wagons and protected an errant officer. We cannot sit around and wait for administrative remedy nor grand jury remedy. Federal civil rights charges aside, why not request our legislators to institute laws that will hold police policy violators -- and law breakers who abuse under the color of authority -- personally and financially liable for damages, injury or death when incurred. If courts do that, this abusive behavior will stop -- yesterday.

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Cheryl Dorsey
Black & Blue

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