A new ruling brings to an end a 15-year saga for one Buffalo Police Officer. In 2006, Cariol Horne stepped in, doing what she thought to be the right thing. That act very nearly cost her everything. But now 15 years later, the officer, fired after serving 19 of the required 20 years to earn her pension, will receive full back pay and pension. But she paid a high cost to get here.

Former Officer Cariol Horne Vindicated for Stopping Chokehold

“The message was sent that you don’t cross that blue line and so some officers – many officers don’t,” Horne said in 2020, reported CNN.

“I had five children and I lost everything but [the suspect] did not lose his life,” Horne said then. “So, if I have nothing else to live for in life, at least I can know that I did the right thing and that [he] still breathes.”

The ruling stems from a 2006 incident involving Horne, a Black woman, and a fellow officer. Horner saw a white colleague employ a chokehold on a handcuffed, black suspect. She thought it excessive and intervened. So the Buffalo PD fired her. But a judge’s recent ruling, in a much different climate today, supports Horne’s actions.

The decision comes as law enforcement face increased scrutiny over interactions, and alleged violence and brutality, against Black suspects. Recent incidents involving the pepper spraying of Army 2nd Lt. Caron Nazario and the fatal shooting of Daunte Wright only intensified public outcry.

“One of the issues in all of these cases is the role of other officers at the scene, and particularly their complicity in failing to intervene to save the life of a person to whom such unreasonable physical force is being applied,” wrote Erie County Supreme Court Judge Dennis E. Ward in his decision, reported CNN.

Horne said she will continue advocating other states to pass similar legislation to “Cariol’s Law.” The law obligates officers to intervene, offering legal protection to officers that act.

“My vindication comes at a 15-year cost, but what has been gained could not be measured,” Horne said, reported CNN. “I never wanted another police officer to go through what I had gone through for doing the right thing.”

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