Despite having escaped accountability for years, New York City police officer David Afanador found himself arrested Thursday on felony strangulation charges after he was caught on camera placing an illegal chokehold on a man, resulting in him losing consciousness.
Now the question is, will Afanador face a bench trial before Judge Danny Chun, who acquitted him in 2016 after he was charged with another felony for beating a man with his gun, knocking his teeth out.
Judge Chun, after all, has no shame in allowing dirty cops to walk but that was before public opinion on police abuse has shifted in the wake of the George Floyd murder.
The incident took place Sunday after Afanador and several other officers responded to a call of three drunk and disorderly men on a beach boardwalk in Queens. The men began taunting the cops while live streaming and for more than ten minutes, the cops showed remarkable patience compared to how we have seen them act in the past to people criticizing them.
But one of the men apparently grabbed something from a garbage can, perhaps a plastic bottle, which gave the cops the excuse to pounce on him and arrest him. Afanador placed the man in a chokehold for about ten seconds, prompting the man’s two friends to yell at the cop to stop choking him. Afanador only loosened his hold after two other cops tapped him on his back.
The man, Ricky Bellevue, 35, was charged with disorderly conduct, obstructing governmental administration and resisting arrest; contempt of cop charges that have already been dismissed.
Afanador, 39, was charged with felony second-degree strangulation and first-degree attempted strangulation, according to the New York Times:
The Police Department banned chokeholds long ago*, but officers have continued to use them on the streets. In 2015, the department* added an exception to the ban, allowing the police to use the maneuver in extreme circumstances.
Officer Afanador was among several officers who were responding to complaints about someone yelling at bystanders and kicking cans on the boardwalk on Sunday morning, the police said.
The officers arrested Mr. Bellevue and during a takedown, Officer Afanador used a chokehold for at least 10 seconds before letting go, the video shows*. Officer Afanador is Hispanic. Mr. Bellevue is black.*
The felony charges suggest that investigators believe Mr. Bellevue may have briefly passed out because of the chokehold. The top charge carries a sentence of two to seven years in prison.
In 2014, Afanador was charged with felony-level assault, criminal possession of a weapon and official misconduct after he was caught on surveillance video striking a teenager in the mouth with his gun over some weed. The video shows another cop, Tyrane Isacc, first approaching the teen on a sidewalk, then punching him in the face, even though the teen was showing no aggression. Isacc was charged with misdemeanor assault and misconduct. New York Judge Danny Chun acquitted them both in 2016.
Afanador has also been named as a defendant in several lawsuits against the NYPD. Watch the video above which includes footage from police body camera as well as footage from one of the men.