New York Police Officer Charged With Strangulation After Putting Man Into Apparent Strangulation

A New York City police officer seen on video who put a man into an apparent stranglehold on a Queens waterfront was arrested and charged Thursday.

Officer David Afanador, who was suspended without pay after Sunday’s incident with Ricky Bellevue, faces charges of strangulation and attempted strangulation, the New York City Police Department said.

The NYPD and the city’s Police Charitable Association, which represents the officers, did not immediately respond to requests for comment on Thursday.

Police were called to the Rockaway Beach boardwalk on Sunday morning to report that a man was harassing people and throwing objects at them.

In the body camera video released by the police, several officers are seen talking to Bellevue, who is black, and two other men. During the incident, the men appear to shake and curse the officers. One of the men films the meeting on his cell phone.

The police ask the men to leave. “What are you doing? Listen, they told everyone to go enjoy the beach and have a good day,” one officer is heard saying. One of the men in the group replies, “You can’t tell me where to go.”

Bellevue is heard in the video warning officers not to touch them.

A New York police officer who put a man in a prohibited stranglehold is expected to face charges.NYPD

The encounter lasts more than 10 minutes and at a moment the group begins to leave before returning and approaching the officers. The video shows Bellevue showing up to pick up something and ask officers if they are “scared.”

Seconds later, they take him to the ground. Several officers are seen in the video restraining Bellevue on his stomach as a viewer yells at them to “stop drowning him.” Bellevue is then put in handcuffs.

The encounter sparked protests outside a police compound in Queens. In a June 21 statement on Twitter, Police Commissioner Dermot Shea said Afanador used an “apparent disturbing break-even point” during the incident.

The New York Police banned strangling in 1993.

The department said in a tweet that its Office of Internal Affairs was conducting an investigation of the use of force.

A spokesman for the public defender representing Bellevue said he was hospitalized after the incident. Lawyer Lori Zeno said Afanador should be fired and processed.

“It is important that we continue to hold police officers accountable for their actions,” Zeno said in a statement. “The officer involved here used a choke to strangle my client until he was unconscious, because according to the police officer, he was being messy.”

“He was the one who committed a crime in this circumstance,” the lawyer continued. “We will not stop until the people of Far Rockaway can feel safe while traveling through their own neighborhood. They should not fear the very people who have sworn to protect them.”

In addition to the NYPD’s choke ban, the City Council last week passed an anti-choke law to criminalize the use of the maneuver.

The measure adds to a state law signed this month that requires officers to be criminally charged if a strangulation results in injury or death.

That bill was named after Eric Garner, a Staten Island man who died in July 2014 after Officer Daniel Pantaleo suffocated him while Garner repeatedly said he couldn’t breathe.

The Afanador officer, 39, has been sued at least four times. He also faced criminal charges in 2014 after being accused of hitting a teenage suspect with the gun and breaking two teeth during a marijuana raid, according to NBC New York.

A video showed Afanador using his weapon to hit a 16-year-old boy until the teenager fell to the ground. Afanador was found not guilty in that case.