The NYPD officer who used his gun to bludgeon an unarmed Brooklyn teenager in the face has been suspended without pay and might be indicted, after video footage of the violent August arrest went public this week.
But then, this isn’t Officer David Afanador’s first brush with the law he is sworn to uphold. Nor is it the first time that Afanador’s misconduct under the color of authority has involved a camera.
In 2009, Afanador was one of five officers who were defendants in a lawsuit against the NYPD. According to the complaint, Afanador and four of his colleagues were strip-searching a suspect on the street when plaintiff Ranique Williams walked by. For whatever reason—legally, he never needed one—Williams whipped out his camera and started snapping pictures.
Bad idea. Immediately, Williams was detained. He tried to call 911 to complain and asked for their badge numbers. They didn’t give any. Instead, they roughed him up, “slapping” the phone from his hand, “striking” him in the face and head, then “punching” him in the face while he was still handcuffed in the back of a police cruiser, never telling him he was under arrest. They also took his camera and his flash drive without a warrant.
As if that weren’t enough, the complaint alleges, Afanador and his colleagues initiated a malicious prosecution against Williams in an attempt to cover up the violent false arrest and the illegal search-and-seizure. (That prosecution was dismissed in 2009.)
Williams’ lawsuit against Afanador and the other cops cost the city a $37,500 settlement.
Whether or not Afanador’s arrest in 2008 went down exactly they way the complaint alleges—we’ll never know, since the case never went to trial—in hindsight the lawsuit stands in the record as a red flag that the NYPD ignored.
Five years later, we have a violent arrest against a sixteen-year-old boy who threw up his hands in surrender just seconds before a cop with a bad rap slammed a loaded gun into his mouth.
Good thing young Kahreem Tribble wasn’t trying to record any of the blows raining down on his head. Knowing the past allegations against Officer Afanador, he might not have survived the encounter.
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