June 25, By Christian Murray
The police officer who was caught on video placing a man in a chokehold in Far Rockaway Sunday has been arrested and now faces up to 7 years in prison.
Police Officer David Afanador, who was suspended by the NYPD hours after the video went viral, has been charged with attempted aggravated strangulation and strangulation in the second degree for allegedly using a banned chokehold on a man during an arrest Sunday morning.
The chokehold caused the victim to lose consciousness.
The incident took place less than two weeks after Governor Andrew Cuomo signed the Eric Garner Anti-Chokehold Act criminalizing this maneuver when used in a life-threatening way.
“The ink from the pen that Governor Cuomo used to sign this legislation was barely dry before this officer allegedly employed the very tactic the new law was designed to prohibit,” said Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz in a statement. “Police officers are entrusted to serve and protect and the conduct alleged here cannot be tolerated. This police officer is now a defendant and is accused of using a chokehold, a maneuver we know has been lethal.”
The incident took place shortly after 8 a.m. Sunday on the boardwalk near the beach in Far Rockaway.
Afanador and several other offices responded to a call of someone screaming and yelling at people on the boardwalk.
The officers encountered three men who proceeded to taunt and heckle them and then started to record the reaction of the officers. Rick Bellevue, one of the three men, then asked the officers if they were scared and appeared to grab a can from a trash receptacle.
That’s when four officers grabbed Bellevue, including Afanador, who allegedly wrapped his arm around Bellevue’s neck and pinned him to the ground.
Afanador allegedly continued the chokehold as other officers handcuffed Bellevue. The video recording then shows Bellevue’s body go limp and him losing consciousness.
Afanador, according to the District Attorney’s office, only removed his arm after being prompted by another cop.
The NYPD body camera footage on the officer shows the cops being cursed at and badgered. However, Katz says, officers are required to exercise restraint and are required to deescalate such conflicts.
Afanador is currently awaiting arraignment in Queens County Court.