Buffalo Fires A Brave Female Cop

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Particularly galling is the complete absence and silence of the Black policemen. Why are they letting the sisters out-man them like that? If it weren't for someone Black taking a stand decades ago, these officers wouldn't even have their jobs.

[Column: Pointblank]


During the first week of this month there was good news and bad news.

The good news is police officer Cariol Horne's gag-order was lifted. The bad news; she was found guilty of nine of the 11 charges against her by hearing officer Thomas Rinaldo-- who seemed pretty biased against Horne and her attorneys near the end-- and was subsequently fired a few days later by Police Chief H. McCarthy Gipson.

His decision doesn't come as a shock either. Many assume he is still upset over being called a "crack head" last fall by defense attorney Anthony Pendergrass. Believe me, Herman would have canned Horne if Pender accused him of inventing Ritz crackers. Buffalo Police culture has been backwards for so long; Gipson is either too afraid or too stupid to stop the madness.

It still doesn't help that the witnesses that threatened to blow the lid off the top cop in Buffalo never materialized. Pendergrass lost his bid to get Horne's disciplinary hearing extended so he could introduce these key witnesses a few weeks back in the Supreme Court.

Having never attended law school, I can't pretend to understand how these things work. But if it's me calling the Commit a crack addict, my witnesses are just outside waiting for me to ring them in. This is not a trump card I can save for later because it makes for great theater or as Buffalo News columnist Rod Watson said, a good "distraction."

There was time to push for a drug test. At this point so much time has elapsed, if the accusation was true and he kicked the habit since then, a hair sample couldn't come up positive.

Both Rinaldo’s and Gipson's decisions came after Horne won at least three awards: one, over a year ago from radio personality and columnist Ted Kirkland; during the summer she earned an award at an About Buffalo Local Action Committee (BLAC) conference; and, recently she was among others to win a Harriet Tubman award.

Rinaldo and Gipson still have yet to put Officer Greg Kwiatkowski under any type of disciplinary measure for his alleged punching of Officer Horne in the face back on November 1, 2006 because she stepped in to intervene when she felt he was choking a Black suspect to death; he and several more of his cop-buddies had previously beat down the suspect.

While Horne was winning awards, Kwiatkowski was still putting his hands on civilians. I did a story on him last summer where he initiated a beating of a West Seneca Italian man who said he was leaving an altercation at a South Buffalo restaurant. Kwiatkowski thought the man was Puerto Rican and had his fellow officers leave his name off the official police report.

The man, Donny Answeeney, showed me and activist Willie Stewart, pictures of his battered and bruised face. The Buffalo Criterion ran a story after much waiting to get a copy of Kwatkowski's P73 statement, admitting his physical altercation with Answeeney.

In spite of last week's rulings the matter is far from over.

No way does Kwatkowski get rewarded for reckless behavior especially if it's part of a long pattern--reportedly, he is number five on a list to be promoted to lieutenant. It is up to District Attorney Frank Clark to charge, prosecute and initiate Kwiatkowski's perp-walk out of his precinct, regardless of the police department’s decision against Horne. Gipson could have made this easier and put an end to the whole affair way before the hearings by exonerating Horne and suspending Kwiatkowski. Firing him would not have upset local officers in particular but it would have upset the BPD continuum and that’s the prime reason he is still on the job.

Between Horne's firing and Gipson's recent public relations campaign as a champion of battered women, white Buffalo looks eager to accept whatever Buffalo Police tells them. Therein lies the greatest tragedy.

Since Horne has been ousted, it’s clear now that the Black community has to be allowed to voice more anger towards its city officials at public forums given by some of Buffalo's Black leaders. People have to be allowed to reveal their experiences with police misconduct absent of any overemphasis of being respectful toward city officials just because they are Black.

Particularly galling is the complete absence and silence of the Black policemen. Why are they letting the sisters out-man them like that? If it weren't for someone Black taking a stand decades ago, these officers wouldn't even have their jobs.

Black Mayor, Black police chief, and a Black female officer gets fired for intervening on a white cop choking a Black suspect. This is shameful, disgraceful and unacceptable.

I've noticed in the past the Commissioner, and other Black city officials efforts to horde the attention of Rev. Al Sharpton during a very limited visit to Buffalo.

Word is they want to get Minister Louis Farrakhan to have BLAC to back off of the Horne situation. They don't want these figures to make this a national issue.

Shame on some of Buffalo's key Black political officials. Malcolm X was referring to such individuals: "What’s the matter boss, we sick? We sick?"


Chris Stevenson is a columnist for the Buffalo Challenger, email him at pointblankdta@yahoo.com

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