It Gets Colder In Buffalo

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[Column: PointBlank]


The case of the Black female police officer, Cariol Jean Horne, here in Buffalo who is being vilified for stopping a fellow officer from choking a Black suspect, David Neal Mack, is taking some strange twists and turns.


When Horne intervened to stop the white cop, Greg Kwiatkowski, from choking Mack, the cop punched her in the face, she says. Rather than becoming the hero, Horne is the one that ended up in trouble with the Police Department, with as many as eight charges brought against her, including inteferring with police work. She is now fighting to keep her job, in Departmental hearings, instead of helping to curb crime.


In the midst of this saga –Horne has numerous supporters including activists in the Black community, while the police have closed ranks around the white officer—several weeks ago Buffalo was rocked when allegations surfaced that Police Commissioner McCarthy Gipson once purchased crack-cocaine while working for the Sheriff's department. The charges have diverted focus from Horne’s saga.


The police chief has since been confronted by at least two officers who were either principles or played a role in the Horne incident, which started on November 1, 2006, when she stopped the choking of Mack. Here's how she's recalled that incident to me: “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.

Some Black folk are very distressed over the Gipson drug accusation. The allegations against Chief Gipson come from Horne’s attorney, an African American, Anthony Pendergrass. There are whispers in the cold streets of Buffalo that a Black man is trying to bring down another Black man. Might Pendergrass be reacting to the department’s failure to protect his client?

Ironically, it is Gipson who will make the final ruling to determine Officer Horne's fate, once he gets a report from the hearing officer.


Pendergrass is no quack. He isn't going to throw away a promising career over some personal animus towards a high ranking Black officer. We will wait for him to produce his witnesses.


Talk radio’s Patrick Freeman told me during an on-air interview that Horne really should be recognized for saving more than just Mack’s life when she stopped his choking. She saved Kwiatkowski’s life as well. He implies Kwiatkowski would have lost his job and faced prosecution in the aftermath.


Shortly after Pendergrass’ crack allegation, co-Counsel Kenneth Nixon told me that it was Kwiatkowski who was with another officer Ann Vanyo, when she busted Gipson with illegal narcotics If this is true, then it eliminates any qualification of Gipson doing any undercover investigation for the police department; he was then-with the Sheriff’s Department. That he was let off the hook means they were watching him and had plans for him and his future.


A highly anticipated December 10 hearing featured further testimony from Mack. The man beaten and choked by Kwiatkowski, Mack reiterated once again that if it weren't for Horne he'd have been killed. He said police busted into his home like they were a street gang.


Kwiatkowski testified in the afternoon and according to Nixon and Horne is now denying that he hit the Black female officer; he denied that he choked Mack; he denied that he used excessive force; and he even tore a page from Mark Furhman’s book, and said he never used the N-word.


According to Nixon, Kwiatkowski says he walked Mack out of his house and that the suspect tried to grab his pistol.


The next hearing will take place on December 27 and 28 at Police Headquarters,  74 Franklin Street, here in Buffalo, New York. It’s going to be a real cold winter.


Contributing writer Chris Stevenson is a columnist for the Buffalo Criterion. Contact him at 


For earlier column on this case with more background please see


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