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Mayor Brown should reinstate Officer Cariol Horne, or step aside

THE EDITORIAL BOARD

If Mayor Byron W. Brown doesn’t reinstate Officer Cariol Horne by January 1st, then he shouldn’t run for reelection.

On November 1, 2006 Officers Gregory Kwiatkowski and Horne were at the home of Neal Mack, a black man, after receiving a report of a domestic disturbance between him and his girlfriend. Kwiatkowski began choking Mack who was being put in handcuffs. Kwiatkowski then punched Mack in the face while he was handcuffed. When Horne attempted to stop the assault, Kwiatkowski then punched her in the face. Horne was fired and Kwiatkowski filed suit for defamation. Horne lost her career and pension benefits, accumulated over a 19 year career on the force.

Gregory Kwiatkowski

Gregory Kwiatkowski

Horne was wronged by her police department, her mayor, and her city. For years, Horne has plead with the city and lawyers, then finally turning to activists who see her as an exemplary officer whose behavior should have been heralded — especially at a time of elevated concern about police brutality and racial disparities in the criminal justice system.

Kwiatkowski has plead guilty this week to using excessive force. He was indicted on federal civil rights violations after an incident in 2009 when he and two cops shot a black teenager with a bee-bee gun while the boy was handcuffed and in their squad car. The two teenagers have since reached legal settlements with the City of Buffalo in the matter.

“The felony counts are for civil rights violations, and for conspiring to violate civil rights, and those are punishable by a maximum of 10 years imprisonment, and a $250,000 fine,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Paul Campana said of the charges against the officers at the time.

An increasingly large group of elected officials and community organizers who have begun calling on the Mayor to reinstate Officer Horne, including Council President Darius Pridgen, County Legislator Betty Jean Grant, and Councilman Ulysses Wingo — even former housing commissioner Joe Mascia is demanding that the Mayor take immediate action.

“If the Mayor lacks the courage to do what’s right, and it takes a figure like me to shame him into acting, then that’s what we’re going to do,” Mascia told The Chronicle this week.

It is widely known that Mayor Brown was hoping for a senior position in a Hillary Clinton administration. In the aftermath of Clinton’s defeat, Brown is expected to seek another term despite critics’ “lackluster” characterization of his performance. Comptroller Mark Schroeder, who was widely expected to seek the Mayor’s office next year, seems to be rethinking his plans. Council President Darius Pridgen has said that he is not running for the office.

If Brown doesn’t have the political courage do right by Cariol Horne — one of Buffalo’s finest — then he should do us all a favor and simply forgo a reelection effort.

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