Buffaloâ€™s Anti-Black Cop
When Kwiatkowski hit his own fellow officer because she stopped him from choking Mack other officers stepped in to separate them both. Horne wasnâ€™t the only Black officer there but her quick thinking probably saved a life that Kwiatkowski may have been determined to take. Predictably she didnâ€™t receive a heroâ€™s welcome at downtown headquarters.
[On Police Brutality]
A talk show producer once told me that he breaks police officers down into three categories; 20 percent of the officers are really very good cops—they arrest dangerous criminals, they’ll climb a tree to save your little girl’s cat. Another 20 percent are flat-out evil; bad, corrupt, racist and abusive. The remaining 60 percent are in the middle.
Believe it or not it’s the ones in the middle that are the biggest problem. They’re the ones who will often be in a position to stop the malcontents and won’t do it. An officer among the 60 will help cover up police misconduct; will at times side in favor of the erring cop not really out of maliciousness, but in the spirit of going along to get along, and lasting long enough to collect his or her pension. This is a story about officers in all three categories.
Lawsuits are currently being filed in Buffalo New York over cases that have nothing to do with public safety or fighting crime, but everything to do with harassment of inner city Blacks and the subsequent acts to keep these ridiculous behaviors from reaching the media.
On November 11, 2006 a mailman flagged down an officer after witnessing a domestic squabble between a former live-in couple. Evidently the former girlfriend of Neal Mack stopped by his Walden Avenue home to pick up an anticipated check that didn’t come with Mack’s batch of mail that day and the woman accused Mack of stealing her check. Along comes a really bad roll of the dice known as Officer Greg M. Kwiatkowski; literally one of Buffalo’s worst.
According to Mack’s attorney, Anthony Pendergrass, Mack was arrested because when Kwiatkowski and a backup officer who arrived at some point—Buffalo squad cars have only one officer per vehicle—came to Mack’s door, he asked them if they had a warrant and the officers indicated they didn’t have one so he made an attempt to close his door.
The officers are said to have kicked the door open and according to Pendergrass, “run ruff-shod over” Mack’s home “beating up his children-one under 18-his adult son Neal Mack Jr., and his girlfriend. He was billy-clubbed over the head.”
Mack, a middle-aged family man wasn’t just weathering the current abuse; he was in danger of losing his life and probably would have if it weren’t for a very bold and selfless action of another police officer.
Officer Cariol J. Horne of Buffalo’s C-District says she got the call to the residence not knowing what the situation was or that another officer was there. She disclosed to me her version of the incident: “When I got there Neal Mack was cuffed in the front and he was standing sideways while the cop was punching him in the face,” she said, of officer Kwiatkowski.
What a brave soul this Kwiatkowski is, beating up someone already cuffed. Officer Horne continued: “So the cop that was in front of me said ‘Greg let me get him, let me cuff him in the back,’ and Greg said ‘no,’ When I walked in there, Kwiatkowski continued to punch him in the face.”
Considering that officer Kwiatkowski’s actions were a complete breakdown in police and public safety procedure, not to mention the uncalled for lack of total respect for a private citizen and his guests in his home, Horne said the only thing on her mind at that point was to get Mack out of the apartment. “Actually I was really thinking we’d better get him out of here before Kwiatkowski kills him,” said Horne in an interview with me.
Other officers of course did arrive, but thanks to the determined Kwiatkowski, things didn’t get any better. “Then Greg had Mr. Neal; he pulled him down to him and just started choking him with his arm. I was looking at the guys face and I said ‘Greg! Greg! You’re choking him.’ So I grabbed his arm from around the guy’s neck and he said ‘Get the Fuck off of me’ and punched me in my face.”
When Kwiatkowski hit his own fellow officer because she stopped him from choking Mack other officers stepped in to separate them both. Horne wasn’t the only Black officer there but her quick thinking probably saved a life that Kwiatkowski may have been determined to take. Predictably she didn’t receive a hero’s welcome at downtown headquarters.
No less than eight charges were leveled toward Horne by Buffalo’s Internal Affairs Division most relating to obstruction; Kwiatkowski accused Horne of jumping on his back, which she denies. Horne is not without her own prior issues with the department but she deserves more objective judgment. She was once fired years ago by the same PSD officer whom is investigating this case, Carl Terranova.
Eventually she fought it and was reinstated to the department. In order to understand Kwiatkowski’s angle, one would have to bend his mind away from all conventional thought of right and wrong and make a conscious effort to become totally obstinate—nothing new in Buffalo.
Kwiatkowski has long been back on duty while Horne is still considered Injured On Duty (IOD) pending a medical approval. Officer Kwiatkowski went back on duty without suspension, just a 30-day administrative leave with pay; little more than a slap on the wrist for doing something he should have been arrested and fired for. This is not even my first story on him.
I spoke with Police Commissioner Gipson about this case several times now; once I accompanied about eight local activists to meet Gipson at downtown headquarters to see about getting Horne back on duty and to call for Kwiatkowski’s ouster. Gipson told us his decisions weren’t going to be influenced by public opinion.
I think he feels that Horne is dogging it; but she’s a woman, shorter than average at just over 5” 1’. She can’t shake a blow from a 6” 2’ guy like that; the way a man could and just go back to work. Over the months she’s suffered headaches. He told me last week while returning one of my messages that even though he is the commissioner there are laws above him that prevent him from firing Horne as well as Kwiatkowski
Officer Horne has been before the electronic media and stated her case; her last interview on a local Black talk show resulted in members of the local police department marching into the Apollo Theater studio with a fake subpoena or warrant demanding copies of the show—Kwiatkowski’s Kooky Kops (KKK) I call them.
The interview earned Horne three more charges from the department, including a ban from further media contact. A couple of activists have told me this is just a way to get her quietly fired.
Officer Kwiatkowski should have been fired long ago. I broke a story on him back in February 2000 when he at least in part helped start a fight in a bar after exchanging words with three men talking to two white females.
Two of the three men were Black and whether or not any of the three were in a relationship with either of the women is nobody’s business. But the real kicker to this story is, the officer Kwiatkowski and fellow officers were said to have been intoxicated and an interdepartmental memo I obtained from a police source admits they “created a problem in this bar.” Additionally, the memo reveals the officers had just come from a police “training session.”
What was this rigorous training that might have led the officers to seek solace in a few bottles? Was it SWAT training? Undercover training? Hostage negotiations? Nope. “Cultural diversity training”—so much for that.
It would send out a good message to the rest of Buffalo’s head-case cops if the new commissioner removed a cancer like Kwiatkowski. He could use a new line of work; a new perspective on life where he deals with various people without a uniform, badge and glock to shield him.
Charges against Neal Mack were recently dropped. He had originally been charged with obstructing governmental administration, petty Larceny—for stealing a check that was assumed to have been in his own mailbox even though that check had yet to be delivered—criminal mischief. Mack’s attorney, Pendergrass moved for a dismissal of all charges based on one factor; the initial arrest was unlawful.
Pendergrass referenced an old case from 1980; Payton v. New York where the US Supreme Court stated that “absent consent exigent (a situation requiring swift attention or action) circumstances, no home may be entered by the police for the purpose of arresting its occupant without an arrest warrant first being obtained.”
The decision clearing Mack was handed down by City Court Judge Debra Givins on the 19th. It was a gutsy ruling by her; and Mack’s case was the rare instance for a Buffalo attorney to fight the case without the customary compromises that most area lawyers try. Black clients are usually made to think they have to settle and accept some guilty plea.
Is Buffalo’s racism more potent than racism in other cities like New York, Philly, or Chicago? Bad cops exist as a result of certain white industry and business leaders giving them the signal; and through the low hiring rates and red-lining of working-class and even middle class Blacks. To be sure, Buffalo cops are not given to murders as they were in the early 1990s, but continued police abuse and disrespect of Blacks could lead to an unrest they haven’t seen since the 1960s.
Black Star News contributor Chris Stevenson is a columnist for the Buffalo Criterion. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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[Quizz. What's negro-phobiatis? According to The Black Star News dictionary its that contagious itch some white cops develop to shoot innocent Black men]
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