No charge in 1st case under NYPD choking ban

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NEW YORK (AP) – A case seen as a first test of New York’s law criminalizing police strangulation has ended without charge.

A Queens grand jury on Tuesday dismissed the charges against David Afanador, a former New York police officer who was seen on cellphone video last year wrapping his arm around a man’s neck on Tuesday. the Rockaway Beach Boardwalk.

The June 2020 showdown came less than a month after George Floyd was murdered by Minneapolis police and just nine days after the state’s smothering ban was enacted as part of a set of police reforms.

Afanador, 40, was the first officer charged under the law. Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz said at the time the ink “was barely dry”. the NYPD.

The grand jury decision Tuesday in the Queens strangulation case overturns aggravated strangulation and attempted strangulation charges prosecutors initially brought against Afanador last year.


In New York, grand juries serve as a check on prosecutors, and all felony cases require an indictment before they can be tried, unless a defendant waives the requirement.

Afanador’s attorney Stephen Worth said on Tuesday they were “pleased that the grand jury saw this act for what it was: a simple act of detaining an emotionally disturbed person for it is evaluated “.

Worth said Afanador testified before the grand jury, although he was not required to.

“There was no bottleneck,” Worth said.

Afanador was suspended by the NYPD and arrested after a video played on his cell phone showing him attacking Ricky Bellevue, 35, and putting his arm around Bellevue’s neck as he lay face down on the ground on the promenade.

Prosecutors said Afanador kept Bellevue in strangulation, a tactic the NYPD had banned for years, while other officers handcuff him, making him appear limp and lose consciousness.

Afanador finally let go of Bellevue’s neck after another officer shot her back, prosecutors said.

Before the teardown, prosecutors said, Bellevue appeared to take a can from a trash can and asked officers if they were scared. Bellevue’s attorney said police knew he was suffering from a mental illness.

Bellevue attorney Sanford Rubenstein said on Tuesday he was disappointed with the grand jury’s decision. He said a lawsuit against Afanador and the police department is continuing.

Reverend Kevin McCall, who is organizing a protest and rally on behalf of Bellevue in Queens Criminal Court on Wednesday, called it a “misfortune of justice”.

Katz said in a statement that the law prohibited her from discussing what had happened in the grand jury, but that she would seek disclosure of the proceedings “in the interests of transparency.”

In 2016, Afanador was acquitted of the charges of hitting a 16-year-old boy with a pistol during a marijuana bust, breaking two of his teeth. The beating, seen on video, continued until the boy fell to the ground and was handcuffed.

In March, he was arrested after Long Island police said he fired a pistol into the Atlantic Ocean while off duty.

Police said officers investigating a report of gunfire at Long Beach saw Afanador walking off the beach with a loaded Beretta 9mm pistol and three magazines loaded with 15 rounds. Afanador has also been cited for possession of alcohol for carrying an open can of Truly Hard Seltzer.

Afanador remains free on bail while this case is pending. His next court appearance is scheduled for October 12.

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Follow Michael Sisak on Twitter at twitter.com/mikesisak



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