New York City police officer arrested after apparent chokehold arrest
By Jonathan Allen
NEW YORK (Reuters) - A New York policeman was arrested Thursday morning and charged with strangulation and attempted strangulation after videos surfaced over the weekend showing that he had arrested a man on an boardwalk with an illegal chokehold.
Officer David Afanador had already been suspended from the New York City Police Department without payment. The 39-year-old Afanador was arrested in a police station home, the NYPD said. His lawyer did not respond to a request for comment.
The NYPD has banned chokeholds since 1993 and warns that they can be fatal. Earlier this month, New York governor Andrew Cuomo signed a law that makes it a crime for civil servants to use chokeholds and similar neck supports as part of a package of police reform bills sparked by nationwide police violence protests.
"Pen Governor Cuomo's ink, which signed this legislation, was barely dry before the official allegedly used the tactic that the new law was supposed to prohibit," said Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz, whose office is following Afanador , in a statement.
Her office has "no tolerance for police misconduct," and officials are trained to de-escalate volatile encounters, the statement said.
Afanador's violent arrest of Ricky Bellevue, a 35-year-old black man, on the Rockaway Beach promenade in Queens on Sunday was detained on police body-cam videos released by the NYPD and on cellphone videos by bystanders were recorded.
Bellevue and two others were seen cursing and insulting Afanador and his colleagues for a few minutes before the arrest. Bellevue asks the officers if they are afraid before taking an item out of a trash can.
The videos show four policemen holding Bellevue on their stomach and a policeman, Afanador, who puts his arm around Bellevue's neck. "Yo, stop choking him, brother!" A viewer screams as Bellevue goes limp.
According to his Queens Defenders lawyers, Bellevue was arrested for "clutter" and hospitalized after he passed out briefly in the officer's mind.
Katz said her office refused to persecute Bellevue.
After the death of George Floyd, a black man, during a May 25 arrest in Minneapolis, police control has tightened across the country.
The video featured a white officer with his knee against Floyd's neck for almost nine minutes, resulting in some of the largest and most sustainable nationwide protests in the United States in decades.
(Reporting by Jonathan Allen in New York; editing by Alistair Bell and Bill Berkrot)
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