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Cariol Horne, a Black police officer in Buffalo who was fired in 2008 for intervening when a white colleague used a chokehold on a citizen, will be given back pay and a pension after years of fighting for restitution.
A New York judge delivered the ruling on Tuesday (April 13). Horne was terminated after the 2006 incident in which she tried to stop an officer from using the controversial procedure on a handcuffed suspect. According to CNN, Horne served on the Buffalo police force for 19 of the 20 years required to receive a pension.
During an interview with the news network last year, Horne says she was fired for crossing the “blue line.”
“The message was sent that you don’t cross that blue line and so some officers — many officers don’t,” Horne said. “I had five children and I lost everything but [the suspect] did not lose his life. So, if I have nothing else to live for in life, at least I can know that I did the right thing and that [he] still breathes.”
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The new ruling also vacated an earlier court ruling that upheld her dismissal. Horne spoke with CNN on Wednesday and was asked if she felt vindicated by the ruling.
“It’s getting there,” she told Don Lemon. “If everyone is not vindicated then I’m not vindicated.”
“The legal system can at the very least be the mechanism to help justice prevail, even if belatedly,” Erie County Supreme Court Judge Dennis E. Ward wrote in his decision.
He added: “One of the issues in all of these cases is the role of other officers at the scene, and particularly their complicity in failing to intervene to save the life of a person to whom such unreasonable physical force is being applied.”
Through a statement issued by her attorney, Horne addressed the ruling in court.
“My vindication comes at a 15 year cost, but what has been gained could not be measured,” she said. “I never wanted another Police Officer to go through what I had gone through for doing the right thing.”