Police Officer Accused of Using Chokehold Arrested, Charged With Strangulation

June 25, 2020 Updated: June 25, 2020

A police officer who appeared to use a chokehold during an arrest on June 21 was arrested and charged on June 25, the NYPD told The Epoch Times.

Officer David Afanador was arrested and charged in the 100th Precinct, a spokeswoman confirmed in an email.

Afanador was charged with strangulation and attempted strangulation.

The officer responded to a report of a man yelling at people near the beach in the borough of Queens.

The NYPD released on June 21 body camera footage of the arrest, which shows officers approaching three men and questioning them about what they’d been doing.

After about 10 minutes, the officers pin one man down after he grabs a black plastic bag containing unknown items and asks the cops if they’re scared.

Warning: Video contains crude language and scenes that could be upsetting to some.

Police Commissioner Dermot Shea said previously that Afanador was suspended.

“Accountability in policing is essential,” Shea said in a statement. “After a swift investigation by the Internal Affairs Bureau, a police officer involved in a disturbing apparent chokehold incident in Queens has been suspended without pay.

“While a full investigation is still underway, there is no question in my mind that this immediate action is necessary.”

An attorney representing the officer didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment. The lawyer, Stephen Worth, told The Associated Press in an email: “It’s become fashionable for prosecutors to make summary arrests of police officers without a full and thorough investigation. The concept of due process seems to go out the window.”

The Queens Defenders, which said it was called to help after community members saw video footage of the police incident, said the man being pinned by the officers became unconscious. The group had called for Afanador to be fired and prosecuted.

“He is the one who committed a crime in this circumstance. We will not stop until the people of The Rockaways can feel safe as they travel through their own neighborhood. They should not fear the very people who are sworn to protect them,” Lori Zeno, executive director of the group, said in a statement earlier in the week.

Afanador has been named in three lawsuits, including two in 2015. In one case, the department settled for $70,000 after plaintiffs alleged police officers unlawfully searched an apartment without a search warrant and used racist language as they made arrests.

New York City police officer David Afanador
New York City police officer David Afanador leaves state court in New York following his arraignment, on Nov. 5, 2014. (Bebeto Matthews/AP Photo)

Chokeholds

The use of chokeholds by police has come under renewed scrutiny after an officer in Minneapolis knelt on a man’s neck on Memorial Day during an arrest. That man, George Floyd, died in police custody.

The NYPD banned chokeholds in 1993, but they have been used since then, including during the arrest of Eric Garner in 2014. Garner died in police custody.

State officials recently passed legislation that would impose criminal penalties on officers who use chokeholds. Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat, signed the bill earlier this month.

Shea, asked about the interaction near the beach during a virtual hearing, said, “You had four officers, roughly, engaged with three gentlemen on the boardwalk for probably 10 to 20 minutes exercising extreme restraint.

“I think people should be condemning the acts, in my opinion, of the individuals—the language they used. I feel most bad for the people that have to walk by on that boardwalk. But at the end of that story, an officer put his hand around a person’s neck, and that [officer] was dealt with swiftly and was suspended.”

Not using chokeholds will continue being emphasized in training, Shea said.

Shea was speaking to New York Attorney General Letitia James, a Democrat who is reviewing the NYPD’s response to protests and riots in recent weeks.

James asked former U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch, who served under then-President Barack Obama, to help investigate alleged misconduct by New York police officers during recent protests.

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