New York Police Department (NYPD) officer David Afanador was suspended without pay after a video widely circulated on social media showed him using the now-banned chokehold on an African American man while arresting the suspect.
The incident took place less than a week after President Donald Trump signed an executive order banning the restraining technique following nationwide protests calling for an end to police brutality and racism against African Americans.
Although New York banned chokeholds long before Trump's ban, Afanador was caught on video with his arms around the suspect's neck for several minutes as three other officers held him down and held one of his arms behind his back.
"Yo, he's choking 'em, let 'em go," bystanders can be heard saying before another officer is seen tapping the back of his colleague urging him to release the chokehold, as previously reported by IBT. Authorities have since released bodycam footage of the incident, which has led to Afanador's suspension and an active use of force investigation against the officer.
Allegations of Assault Against African-Americans
Afanador was also named in several other complaints of alleged assault. Afanador was named along with four other officers in a 2009 complaint, in which a man named Ranique Williams accused the officers of arresting and assaulting him when he was filming them performing a strip search on someone else.
In 2015, Afanador was named in another lawsuit along with two other plainclothes officers who were involved in what was alleged to be a "warrantless" search.
According to the complaint listed in court documents, Charlene Jack alleged that she was told "Shut the f**k up you black b***h" and "slammed ... into an adjoining wall." She also said her sister was being shoved and a male who had arrived and asked the officers to stop was slammed to the ground and cuffed.
Afanador Acquitted of Felony Assault in 2016
Afanador, who has served as an NYPD officer for 15 years, had previously faced felony assault charges for brutally beating a black teenager in Brooklyn in 2014.
In the August 2014 incident, which was also caught on camera, Afanador, 35, allegedly used his service weapon to break 16-year-old Kaheem Tribble's teeth while another officer, Tyrane Isaac, punched the teenager while trying to handcuff him.
Afanador and Isaac were both acquitted of the charges in 2016 by Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Danny Chun.
Danny Chun's Reputation as an 'Anti-Black' Judge
Chun has previously been accused of favoring police officers, as pointed out by civil rights attorney Rebecca Kavanagh. The judge is best known for sentencing former NYPD officer Peter Liang to probation and community service for the fatal shooting of Akai Gurley, a 28-year-old African American man in Brooklyn.
The case drew widespread attention because the jury had found Liang guilty of manslaughter after a trial but Chun reduced the charge to criminally negligent homicide.
In 2016, he sentenced 16-year-old Marcell Dockery to 19 years to life on a felony murder charge after the teenager lit a mattress on fire and a police officer who responded to the blaze died of smoke inhalation.
In the matter, the District Attorney had asked for a sentence of 18 years in prison, already a significantly high suggestion for a child charged with felony murder, but Chun handed down a harsher punishment.
Last year, Chun allowed two NYPD officers Eddie Martins and Richard Hall accused of raping an 18-year-old girl in their custody to walk free with just probation. Both officers had pleaded guilty to the charges against them and the District Attorney recommended a sentence of between 1 and 3 years in prison.
In December, he sentenced former NYPD officer Ritchard Blake to probation after he shot Thavone Santana, an acquaintance, in the face, planted a knife next to him and falsely claimed that he was robbed.
Earlier this year, he sentenced ex-NYPD detective Michael Bergmann to probation after he pleaded guilty to perjury for lying to the grand jury, which led to an innocent man spending 6 months in jail.