David Afanador, the NYPD officer seen using an illegal chokehold during an arrest in a viral video, is now facing charges. Afanador has been arrested and charged with attempted aggravated strangulation and strangulation in the second degree, according to a press release from Queens County District Attorney Melinda Katz. NPR reported that after pleading not guilty, Afanador was released without bail on June 25.
On June 21, Afanador and other officers approached a black man named Ricky Bellevue in the Rockaway Beach area of Queens, New York, after getting reports of a man acting erratically. During his arrest, things got physical and Afanador put him in a chokehold, a method of restraint that was recently made illegal in New York. Afanador had Bellevue in a chokehold for eight to 12 seconds that left him unconscious. After the incident, Bellevue was taken to St. John’s Hospital and received medical attention for a laceration on his head, CBS reported.
After the incident led to heavy scrutiny, NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea announced that Afanador was suspended without pay while the incident was being investigated.
“Accountability in policing is essential,” he said on Twitter. “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.”
Afanador’s arrest comes less than three weeks after the Eric Garner Anti-Chokehold Act was signed into legislation by the New York State Assembly. Garner died in 2014 after former NYPD officer Daniel Pantaleo used the banned chokehold while restraining him. The chokehold had been banned by the NYPD since 1993, according to a press release about the new state law.
“The ink from the pen Governor Cuomo used to sign this legislation was barely dry before this officer allegedly employed the very tactic the new law was designed to prohibit,” Katz said in a press release. “Police officers are entrusted to serve and protect, and the conduct alleged here cannot be tolerated.”
From 2014 to 2020, the New York City Civilian Complaint Review Board received 996 complaints from civilians claiming that the chokehold was used during their arrest, according to the New York State Assembly.
Bellevue Has Been ‘Suffering’ Since the Incident With Afanador
During a press conference on June 25, Reverend Kevin McCall, speaking for Bellevue’s family, said Bellevue hasn’t been doing well since the encounter with Afanador.
“Ricky is still suffering from the abuse, the brutality, the chokehold that this officer did to him,” McCall said, according to CBS. “It was insult to injury that the district attorney’s office did not notify him or his family that the officer was gonna be arrested today, or the officers was going to be arrested and turn himself in this morning. It re-victimized him.”
Afanador Has Been Sued Before
According to court documents, a woman named Torisha Jack filed a lawsuit against Afanador and two other officers accusing them of searching her home without a warrant. She claimed they entered her home and did not announce themselves, were violent with other people in her home and damaged her property during the search. In the complaint, Jack also said Afanador told her “Shut the f**k up you black b***h” and slammed her into a wall. The lawsuit was later settled for $70,000 as stated on CAPStat.