It’s been nearly a year since the nation witnessed the horror of four Minneapolis police officers cause the death of George Floyd, initiating nationwide protests and unrest and our new state anti-chokehold law. Shortly after, however, one of ours was caught using that banned hold after an incident at Rockaway Beach. While getting far less nationwide coverage, it certainly brings the subject of police reform closer to home.
David Afanador, a 16-year veteran of the New York Police Department, was the first officer arrested under the state chokehold law that was implemented last June. The arrest was triggered when someone caught the incident on video after Afanador reacted to taunting by individuals on the boardwalk and used the chokehold against one of them before being pulled off by another officer.
He made the news again last Sunday when he was arrested for discharging a firearm into the ocean near the Long Beach Boardwalk and has been suspended without pay. Afanador, currently on restricted duty without the authorization to possess or carry a gun, also has a history of eight civil complaints against him. He has been accused of things such as excessive force and denying medical attention.
When Bad Cops Give Everyone a Bad Rap
National attention has once again forced us to face the current issues in our police departments, not only here in New York and Minneapolis but around the country.
What happens when bad cops give the whole law enforcement community a bad rap? Have we given law enforcement too much free rein, the consequences of which have resulted in our current situation? Or is the real truth somewhere in the middle, and the answer is not only multifaceted but extremely complicated? While we may dig in our heels depending on our own unique perspective, the conversation is an important one so we can go forward.
The Bad Reputation of the Chokehold and Its Continued Reliance
Pre-dating things like pepper spray, tasers, and other means of calming a situation, the chokehold was widely used. But over the years, it came under intense scrutiny, with NYPD finally banning it altogether along with other law enforcement agencies in 1993.
Unfortunately, it was still being used by many members of law enforcement, leading to a divide between government and the police over the decades and precipitating the chokehold incident causing the death of Eric Garner in 2014, which still reverberates today.
After the new legislation was enacted, there was widespread opposition to it by multiple New York police unions.
The Chokehold Today
As we see, the chokehold was still alive and well in 2020, which begs the question, how do we weed out the bad cops who use it unlawfully while still offering police the ability to restrain individuals during unpredictable struggles? Although we have new legislation prohibiting chokeholds, we know from history that we will probably have to face this issue time and again until we can come up with viable answers and hold bad cops accountable while ensuring protection for the good ones.
When the police legally overstep their boundaries, it can be criminal misconduct. Police misconduct is not new, and those who have been victimized are entitled to bring civil charges.
If you feel you are the victim of misconduct or you feel you have been wrongly accused of criminal activity, getting the help of an attorney with experience and a reputation for toughness is critical. Know your rights. Contact the legal team at Bukh Law for a free case evaluation.