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NYPD officer arrested, charged after using apparent chokehold on black man

NYPD officer suspended for possible chokehold
NYPD officer suspended for possible chokehold... 00:44

An NYPD officer accused of using an "apparent chokehold" on a man on a boardwalk at a Queens beach was arrested and charged Thursday, according to the department. Officer David Afanador, 39, faces charges of strangulation and attempted strangulation in the Sunday incident, the NYPD said in a statement. 

Afanador was among a group of officers that was seen on video tackling a black man on a boardwalk. Afanador then put his arm around the man's neck as he lay face down until the man appeared to lose consciousness. In the video, someone yells, "Stop choking him, bro!" and Afandor relaxes his grip when a fellow officer taps him on the shoulder and tugs on his shirt.

Sources told CBS New York officers had responded to reports of a man acting disorderly on the boardwalk. When officers arrived, they approached the man and say he started acting combative and resisted arrest.

A lawyer identified the man to CBS New York as 35-year-old Ricky Bellevue and said he was treated at a hospital and released. Afanador was suspended without pay from the department after the incident.

A police reform bill signed by New York Governor Andrew Cuomo this month makes it a felony punishable by up to 15 years in prison for an officer to restrict someone's breathing by applying pressure to someone's windpipe, seriously injuring or killing them.

The anti-chokehold act signed by Cuomo June 12 is named for Eric Garner, the unarmed black man who died when an NYPD officer used a chokehold on him on Staten Island in 2014. Garner's dying words, "I can't breathe," have become a rallying cry of those protesting police brutality against black men and women. Those protests were re-ignited by the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, who also begged "I can't breathe" as an officer kneeled on his neck for nearly eight minutes, killing him.

The use of chokeholds had already been banned by the NYPD.

A search of court records shows four previous instances in which Afanador has been sued for excessive force and the city paid out a settlement, including a $37,500 settlement in 2009 and two settlements for unknown amounts in 2012 and 2015. The fourth settlement for an unknown amount was in 2018 when Afanador was accused of chasing down a minor and hitting him with his gun, breaking his teeth.

In a statement last Sunday, Police Commissioner Dermot Shea said, "Accountability in policing is essential. 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. We are committed to transparency as this process continues," he added.

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