NYPD Officer suspended without pay following "disturbing apparent chokehold incident
NYPD officer suspended after apparent chokehold incident
01:26 - Source: CNN
CNN  — 

The New York police officer who appeared to put a man into a chokehold on video has had previous complaints against him involving use of force, according to records provided to CNN by the city’s Civilian Complaint Review Board.

The officer, David Afanador, was suspended without pay after the video surfaced. He has been with the police force for 15 years, two law enforcement sources tell CNN.

Afanador is described as a Hispanic officer who has eight civilian complaint cases on his record. He was exonerated for the allegations made in seven of the cases.

In one complaint, it is alleged he used his gun to strike an individual in the mouth in 2014. The case was settled with no admission of fault or liability, according to the dismissal.

In another complaint from 2011, he is named as one of three officers accused of pulling up to a man in an unmarked car. One of the officers allegedly tackled the man to the ground, breaking his clavicle. It is not clear from the suit if Afanador was the officer who allegedly tackled the plaintiff.

That case was also settled with no admission of fault or liability, according to the dismissal.

CNN has reached out to the Police Benevolent Association of the City of New York, the union that represents officers, for comment. Multiple attempts to reach Afanador directly were unsuccessful.

District attorney refuses to charge victim of chokehold

The NYPD’s Internal Affairs Bureau launched an active use of force investigation after video of the arrest surfaced on social media.

The man seen in the video was identified by his attorney as Richard “Ricky” Bellevue. His attorney, Lori Zeno, has called for the officer involved to be fired and prosecuted.

Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz declined to prosecute Bellevue, who was charged with disorderly conduct, obstructing governmental administration and resisting arrest, Zeno said.

The video shows several officers involved in the arrest of Bellevue, with one in particular appearing to put him in a chokehold. Another officer is observed tapping the back of the officer who had Bellevue in the apparent chokehold, and that officer appears to release his hold.

Body camera footage released by the NYPD shows the moments leading up to the incident.

According to a law enforcement source, the incident happened 8:45 a.m. Sunday morning on Rockaway Beach Queens boardwalk as police were responding to a disorderly group in the area.

Three men in particular are seen on camera making exchanges with police, sometimes in conversation, other times name calling and taunting.

At one point Bellevue approaches the officers and taunts them, saying “I’ll throw sh*t in your face.”

The law enforcement source described Bellevue saying on camera “touch any of my boys and you’ll be dead,” parts of which can be heard on camera.

After some words were exchanged between the officers and Bellevue, the officers move in for the arrest.
A scuffle ensues and the video shows several officers working to arrest Bellevue. From the view of the body camera an officer can be seen eventually removing his arm from Bellevue’s neck.

“He’s choking him,” you hear from bystanders, even as officers are walking him to their vehicle. When asked by another bystander, an officer says, “He’s not getting arrested, he’s going to the hospital.”

Eventually the suspect is seen walking in handcuffs with police.

Bellevue suffered a laceration and was taken to a nearby hospital, the source said,.

“His hair and his skin on his scalp were just ripped off. It was a big round spot. Just blood, that’s all you could see, all the skin was gone,” Zeno, Bellevue’s attorney, told CNN.

She said Bellevue was finally released from custody on Monday afternoon and is recovering from his injuries.

Attorney for Bellevue calls for officers firing

Katz, the Queens district attorney, said in a statement Sunday that her office is aware of the incident and that an investigation is underway.

“There must be zero tolerance for police misconduct. The District Attorney’s Office is aware of the incident in Far Rockaway today. We take these allegations very seriously and an active investigation is underway,” Katz said.

Zeno, Bellevue’s attorney, has called for the officer involved to be fired. She alleges the NYPD changed their account of what happened.

Zeno told CNN’s Erin Burnett Monday she originally heard the officers were responding to a complaint about guys throwing cans, but that when she asked to hear a 911 call, it didn’t exist.

“There was no 911 call, so then they changed their story,” she said. “And then eventually, it just sort of came out that they saw them on the beach. They recognized all three of them … So you can see on the video cam or the body cam where it’s the officers who start the physical contact.”

CNN’s Mark Morales and Kristina Sgueglia contributed to this report.