15 years after her firing, a judge has ruled in favor of Cariol Horne, saying her firing was wrong.

Back in 2006, former Buffalo police officer Cariol Horne was fired for stopping a fellow cop from chokeholding a Black man. Now, 15 years later, a judge has ruled that her firing was wrong.

In a report from the New York Times, a state court judge vindicated Horne and reversed an earlier ruling that supported her firing, resulting in her being able to collect her full pension. Horne was fired a year before her pension was supposed to kick in, having served almost 20 years on the force.

The incident took place back in 2006, when Horne responded to a colleague’s call requesting help. When she arrived on the scene, she saw the officer, Gregory Kwiatkowski, punching a handcuffed Black man, before putting him in a chokehold. Horne heard the man say he couldn’t breathe, leading her to forcibly remove Kwiatkowski and trade blows with him.

Following the incident, Horne was reassigned, hit with departmental charges, and fired. When she tried to collect her full pension, she was denied it. Kwiatkowski also ended up suing Horne for defamation, and won a $65,000 judgment against her.

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

Justice Dennis E. Ward, the judge overseeing the matter, also said the following about the ruling: “The legal system can at the very least be a mechanism to help justice prevail, even if belatedly.”

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