NYPD officer David Afanador in chokehold video had prior brutality case
A New York City police officer identified as Officer David Afanador, was removed from duty after he was recorded putting a man in what the police commissioner said was a banned chokehold once faced criminal charges alleging he pistol-whipped a teenage suspect and broke two of his teeth
The police department responded quickly to suspending Officer David Afanador without pay after the illegal incident occurred Sunday on the boardwalk at Rockaway Beach in Queens. Police Commissioner Dermot Shea spoke out Monday, saying the swift action was a sign of “unprecedented times.”
“I think we have an obligation to act swiftly but we also have to get it right and to inform the public about what’s going on,” Shea told TV station NY1.
Commissioner Dermot Shea announced the suspension hours only hours after video of the incident was posted on social media.
This is not the first time Afanador was suspended from the force. The officer was also sidelined after his 2014 arrest, only to return to duty after a judge acquitted him and his partner of all charges in 2016.
The 2014 case involves Officer David Afanador using his gun to hit a 16-year-old boy during a marijuana bust. This was caught on video. The beating continued until the boy dropped to the ground and was handcuffed. That altercation, which came six weeks after the police chokehold death of Eric Garner, also made news headlines.
Since joining the police department in 2005, Afanador has been involved in eight incidents that were the subject of complaints to the city’s police watchdog agency, according to records obtained Monday under a new state law making disciplinary files public.
The files detail incidents of the Officer using discourteous language to use of physical force and refusing to seek medical treatment. All of the allegations to the city’s Civilian Complaint Review were either unsubstantiated or led to exoneration except for the ones stemming from the altercation that led to his arrest.
Sunday’s incident was shot by one of the men involved in the altercation showed officers tackling a Black man and Afanador putting his arm around the man’s neck as he lay face down on the boardwalk.
Body camera footage released later by police detailed at least 11 minutes before the arrest, three men were shouting insults at the police while the officers implored them to walk away.
“I put out the body camera footage yesterday and I think it tells a very different story than the initial video,” Shea said. “But ultimately, you know, the hand around the neck is the hand around the neck and I dealt with that swiftly.”
Chokeholds have long been banned by the NYPD and other states, in wake of George Floyd’s murder by police. Their use has been especially fraught since Garner died in 2014 after an officer put him in a chokehold while trying to arrest him. Gov. Andrew Cuomo last week signed a statewide ban on police chokeholds..
“I think it’s unprecedented times,” Shea said, alluding to the public’s demand for police accountability since Floyd’s death.
Shea said he does not believe there is systemic racism in the NYPD. He is scheduled to testify Monday at the state attorney general’s hearing on police officers’ rough treatment of protesters.
His testimony comes days after Attorney General Letitia James publicly rebuked the police department and Mayor Bill de Blasio for ignoring invitations to participate.