Cariol Horne is fighting to get her pension back from the Buffalo Police Department after she was fired for trying to stop another officer who she said was choking a suspect.
The officer in question punched Horne in the face, one of a number of times he was accused of assaulting a fellow officer. But Horne was the one who ended up getting fired for the incident, not him.
The incident took place in November, 2006, starting with a call of an officer in trouble on Walden Avenue in Buffalo. Horne arrived to find officer Gregory Kwiatkowski responding to a call of a fight between Neal Mack and his girlfriend. Mack was already in handcuffs by the time Horne arrived, but Kwiatkowski was continuing to pummel the man.
“He was handcuffed in the front and he was sideways and being punched in the face by Gregory Kwiatkowski,” she said.
About 10 officers then dragged Mack from the home, but Kwiatkowski wouldn’t stop attacking, Horne said.
“Gregory Kwiatkowski turned Neal Mack around and started choking him. So then I’m like, ‘Greg! You’re choking him,’ because I thought whatever happened in the house he was still upset about so when he didn’t stop choking him I just grabbed his arm from around Neal Mack’s neck,” Horne said.
That was when Gregory Kwiatkowski turned his attention to officer Cariol Horne.
“He comes up and punches me in the face and I had to have my bridge replaced,” Horne said.
Horne was fired for the incident and charged with obstruction for jumping on Kwiatkowski’s back, though in sworn testimony, Kwiatkowski even admitted that she never did such a thing. He was later accused of choking another officer on the job and punching a different officer while they were off the job. He was forced to resign.
Now Cariol Horne is fighting for her pension, and taking her case to the public. After giving an interview with a local Buffalo television station her case has gained national attention.
Some in Buffalo say her case has had ripple effects through the community. After the “blue wall” closed in on her to protect a fellow officer, an atmosphere of unchecked police abuse grew, critics say. Within the past year there have been a number of instances of police accused of brutality, including off-duty police officers acting as bouncers who beat an Air National Guardsman into a coma earlier this year.
“Now you have a culture of violence in the Buffalo Police Department where other good officers will not stand up and do anything because if they stand up and do anything, they know they will be terminated,” said Anthony Pendergrass, who was Horne’s attorney.
Though she now works as a truck driver and has no pension after 19 years on the force, Cariol Horne said she doesn’t regret anything, and would do the same thing again if the situation arose.