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Horne's 'retaliation' claim on hold

A judge Tuesday refused to let attorneys for Buffalo Police Officer Cariol J. Horne launch a court fight over her claims of illegal retaliation by police officials and the city while she is the subject of a departmental disciplinary proceeding.

State Supreme Court Justice Joseph D. Mintz, whose Oct. 16 ruling opened departmental proceedings against Horne to the public, agreed with Police Department attorney Diane T. O'Gorman on how the retaliation allegation must be handled. The open hearing was the first in the history of the department.

The judge told Anthony L. Pendergrass, Horne's attorney, that she must exhaust all avenues available to her under the police contract before she can pursue her complaint of retaliation in the courts.

Horne's disciplinary hearing resumes Monday in Police Headquarters. She is fighting departmental charges for an on-duty skirmish with Police Officer Gregory M. Kwiatkowski on Nov. 1, 2006.

Horne has said she fought with Kwiatkowski because she felt he and another officer were using excessive force while trying to arrest a man involved in an alleged domestic dispute. Charges against the man were later dismissed.

Horne and Kwiatkowski subsequently filed defamation suits against each other.

Tuesday, after Pendergrass alleged continued "retaliation" against Horne, still under a doctor's care for injuries suffered in the fight with Kwiatkowski, O'Gorman noted she returned to paid injured-on-duty status early last month. Horne alleges her brief callback is retaliation by department officials.

Horne, a police officer since 1988, was off work for five years because of an earlier on-duty injury. An arbitrator and the courts ordered her reinstated with full back pay two years ago.

In the departmental disciplinary hearing, arbitrator Thomas Rinaldo must ultimately make a recommendation to Buffalo Police Commissioner H. McCarthy Gipson on the validity of the departmental charges.

After Rinaldo issues a ruling, which is expected months from now, Gipson will have the final say on Horne's status on the force.

e-mail: mgryta@buffnews.com

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