NYPD officer charged after using banned chokehold; Ariz., N.C. cops face scrutiny

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed legislation two weeks ago banning police from using chokeholds. File Photo by John Angelillo UPI

June 25 (UPI) — Prosecutors on Thursday charged a New York police officer with strangulation after video appeared to show him using a banned chokehold technique during an arrest.

The New York Police Department suspended officer David Afanador without pay in response to the Sunday incident.

Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz said Afanador has been charged with attempted aggravated strangulation and second-degree strangulation after he allegedly used a chokehold on Ricky Bellevue as he was being arrested on the boardwalk in Far Rockaway.

The charges come two weeks after New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed legislation banning police in the state from using chokeholds on citizens. He signed the law after protests seeking reforms in the wake of the police-involved death of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

“The ink from the pen Gov. Cuomo used to sign this legislation was barely dry before this officer allegedly employed the very tactic the new law was designed to prohibit,” Katz said.

“Police officers are entrusted to serve and protect — and the conduct alleged here cannot be tolerated. This police officer is now a defendant and is accused of using a chokehold, a maneuver we know has been lethal. This Office has zero tolerance for police misconduct.”

Video from Bellevue’s arrest shows he and two other men allegedly heckling the responding police officers. Four officers appear to grab Bellevue after he grabbed a can from a trash can. At that point, Afanador allegedly wraps his arm around Bellevue’s neck and pins him to the ground.

The video appears to show Afanador holding Bellevue in a chokehold until the man goes limp and loses consciousness.

If convicted, Afanador faces up to seven years in prison.

The NYPD officer is one of multiple law enforcement officials coming under fire in recent days as activists and lawmakers seek policing reforms to cut down on excessive force.

Tucson police Chief Chris Magnus offered his resignation Wednesday after facing scrutiny for the police-involved death of a man in April. The department shared video footage of the arrest of Carlos Ingram Lopez, who died after police wrestled him to the ground and put him in handcuffs while he was on his stomach.

Ingram Lopez can be heard in the video wheezing and saying he couldn’t breathe and requesting a drink of water. After police noticed he became unresponsive, they administered naloxone thinking he was having a drug overdose and performed CPR.

Emergency medical technicians arrived and pronounced him dead on the scene. The Pima County Medical Examiner’s report said Ingram Lopez died of “sudden cardiac arrest in the setting of acute cocaine intoxication and physical restraint.”

The three police officers involved in Ingram Lopez’s arrest have since resigned, though Magnus said they would have been fired.

“To demonstrate my willingness to take accountability for these mistakes, I am offering my resignation to the mayor, city council and city manager, which they can accept or handle as they view appropriate,” Magnus said.

Meanwhile, the Wilmington, N.C., Police Department fired three police officers after a patrol car camera captured them using “hate-filled speech.” The fired officers were identified as James Gilmore, Cpl. Jesse Moore II and Kevin Piner.

In the videos, the officers can be heard criticizing black officers in their department, the Black Lives Matter movement and police response to the protests.

The conversations “were brutally offensive and deserved immediate action,” police Chief Donny Williams said Thursday. “When I first learned of these conversations, I was shocked, saddened and disgusted. There is no place for this behavior in our agency or our city and it will not be tolerated.”


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