Nearly 14 years to the day after fired Buffalo police officer Cariol Holloman-Horne said she tried to stop another cop from choking a suspect, Mayor Byron Brown signed a law that would legally require a Buffalo police officer to intervene if another fellow officer is using excessive force.
It is called "Cariol's Law."
Horne has been advocating for a series of laws that would require officers to intercede when another officer is using excessive force, protect whistleblower cops and also provide retroactive protections for officers who intervene or report other officers.
"Cariol's Law" grew support amid this summer's Black Lives Matter protests as Horne's story drew national attention.
In September, the Buffalo Common Council passed "Cariol's Law" 8 to 1. Dozens of local supporters of Horne pushed the mayor to sign the legislation at a public hearing last week.
Under the new law, when an officer fails to intervene in an incident that results in death or serious bodily injury, the incident would be turned over to the Erie County District Attorney's Office. Retaliation in such cases could be grounds for termination.
For 14 years, Cariol Holloman-Horne has held firm that she did the right thing when she tried to stop a fellow Buffalo cop who she says was choking a man he was trying to arrest. Her day may finally have come.
The new city law mirrors the Buffalo Police Department's existing "duty to intervene" policy.
"This codifies what was in city policy and what is in state and federal law," Brown told The Buffalo News after signing the legislation Wednesday afternoon. "This adds a local law that puts all of those into one place so that our residents and so that our officers understand – with the force of law – that this is the intent and the policy of the City of Buffalo," Brown said.
The events that led to Horne's termination began on the morning of Nov. 1, 2006, when a postal worker flagged down a patrol officer to report an argument between a man and a woman at a two-unit house on Walden Avenue.
The woman was accusing her ex-boyfriend, David Neal Mack, then 54, who lived in the lower floor of the double, of stealing her Social Security check for $626.
Among the officers responding were Horne and Greg Kwiatkowski.
It’s now up to Buffalo Mayor Byron W. Brown to enact Cariol’s Law. The new legislation was approved by the Common Council Sept. 29.
As officers tried to take Mack into custody, the arrest became violent. Police used pepper-spray inside the house, and Horne later testified that she helped other officers push Mack out of the house. She said officers “were struggling” with Mack in the driveway when she saw Kwiatkowski put Mack into a chokehold.
Witnesses and police told The Buffalo News at the time that Kwiatkowski and Horne were seen fighting, throwing punches at each other, in the driveway of Mack’s home.
An internal investigation was opened. Kwiatkowski was cleared of all charges. Horne was offered a four-day suspension, which she turned down.
Two years later, after a hearing before an arbitrator that Horne insisted be held publicly, the arbitrator found Horne guilty on 11 of 13 internal charges. She was then fired, with 19 years credited toward her job. That was one year shy of what the city police officers must accrue in order to retire under the state system and receive a pension. However, she would still qualify to receive a partial pension from the state at age 55.
Over the years, Horne has fought to get her full police pension restored. Last month, with the help of lawyers, she renewed that fight by filing a lawsuit aimed at vacating a court ruling that upheld the arbitrator's findings.
"I feel incredibly vindicated as my law pioneered reform and is now etched into history," Horne said in an emailed statement. "In all, not only do I deserve my pension in its totality, I deserve to be made whole."