A former Buffalo police officer and approximately two dozen peers stood outside Buffalo Police Headquarters Tuesday morning, announcing their proposed legislation that would require law enforcers step in to stop peers from committing acts of brutality, or face prosecution for failing to act.
Cariol Horne, who was fired in 2008 after stepping in to stop a white officer who held a Black suspect in a chokehold, introduced the proposed law named for her, "Cariol's Law."
"I'm here to formally introduce Cariol's Law," Horne said. "Cariol's Law will protect officers who do stand up against police brutality and they will not be treated as I have been. It is the duty to intervene. No retaliation, or there will be prosecution."
In addition to requiring officers to intervene and stop acts of excessive force by fellow officers, the proposed law also calls for punishments for officers who fail to act in such situations. Officers who report acts of police brutality would be protected from internal retaliation, including reassignment, and officers caught falsifying reports would also be subject to punishment.
An arbitrator recommended Horne's dismissal, which was later upheld by a judge.
Horne and her peers announced they would deliver copies of their proposed legislation to the Common Council and to Mayor Byron Brown.
"This time, this climate in our country, justice is being turned on its head. And we have to keep pushing, pushing the needle of justice further and further, until justice equals our liberation and our equality," said Phylicia Dove, owner of the boutique Black Monarchy and a self-described fashion activist. "It is a known fact that there are two separate justices in America. There is black justice, and there is white justice. And we are here to put it into that being a police officer should not come with racial barriers."
The Buffalo Common Council recently passed a resolution asking the New York State Attorney General to re-examine Horne's dismissal from the police force, which came one year before she would have been eligible to retire and receive a pension. Activists have called upon the city to restore her eligibility for that pension.
Musical artist Drea D'Nur, speaking in support of Cariol's Law, said her name needs to go on such legislation, so that she may remembered as a good cop who did the right thing.
"We are not asking legislation to do a favor for this woman who has suffered for 14 years, but we are demanding that you reach within your soul and reach within your spirit and do what is right, which is what Cariol Horne did 14 years ago," D'Nur said. "She wasn't trained to intervene. She wasn't trained to open her mouth and risk everything to do what is right. What she did was from her heart. And what we're asking people to do is think about how many other officers, like Cariol Horne, want to do what is right."