Here we go again: Queens officer suspended for using chokehold

Stephon Johnson | 6/25/2020, 10:33 a.m.
Another day, another story of police violence.
NYPD Photo by Bill Moore

Last week, before the incident took place, Mayor de Blasio announced that the city would expedite the disciplinary process against NYPD officers accused of abuse and make the disciplinary records public.

Dawit Getachew, policy counsel for the Criminal Defense Practice at The Bronx Defenders, told the AmNews that this could work if only the city follows through.

“This looks like it could be a step in the right direction, but transparency will only be meaningful if it leads to accountability,” said Getachew. “We need to see how these databases are maintained and how these processes are put into effect before anyone can say any of this gets us closer to real police accountability. In the meantime, the mayor can take immediate action by firing police officers who have committed serious misconduct.”

Earlier this month, the New York State passed the “Eric Garner Anti-Chokehold Act” named after the infamous police murder of Garner via chokehold. Senator Michael Benjamin, who championed the bill, said the video of Afanador using a chokehold on Bellevue showed why the legislation was necessary.

“The video from NYPD’s 100th Precinct of Officer David Afanador holding a man in a chokehold on a Queens boardwalk is very concerning,” stated Benjamin. “Since the passage of my bill, the Eric Garner Anti-Chokehold Act, police chokeholds that lead to serious physical injury or death are now criminal and punishable up to 15 years in prison. If the investigation into this incident reveals that this man was seriously injured, then Officer Afanador should be charged. Excessive force cannot be tolerated.”

While New York State Gov. Andrew Cuomo didn’t respond to requests for comment, his office did send a transcript of his appearance on “CNN Newsroom With Poppy Harlow and Jim Sciutto” talking about a change in policing and the efforts by anti-police brutality activists to “defund” the police.”

“You need to change the policies,” said Cuomo. “You need to change the way we police. And it’s not ‘Are the police right? Are the police wrong?’ Once the community stands up and says, ‘We don’t trust the police. We don’t respect this type of policing,’ the game is over because it’s a relationship. And the relationship is now breached, and it only takes one side of the relationship to say this relationship doesn’t work for me, and it doesn’t matter to say, ‘Well are you right or are you wrong?’ Right?

“One side says, ‘I want a divorce.’ That’s it, you have a problem in the relationship. And that’s where we are, but we now have to make change,” said Cuomo.

For Class of CPR, the time is here and the time is now to use city funding for the police for other areas of government.

“Incidents like this make clear that the NYPD’s FY21 expense budget must be cut by at least $1 billion and those monies must be redirected to programs, services and infrastructure in Black, Latinx and other communities of color to help ensure an equitable transition during and after the COVID-19 period,” said Class.