New York City police Officer David Afanador has been arrested and charged with strangulation as a result of an incident involving a suspect named Ricky Bellevue that occurred Sunday.
The incident became the subject of national attention and protests because of the chokehold Afanador could be seen applying to Bellevue during video taken of the incident, and because of the nationwide controversy concerning the maneuver following the deaths of a number of suspects in police custody, including George Floyd and Eric Garner.
After video of the incident was released on social media Sunday, the NYPD promptly suspended Afanador without pay. The department banned the use of chokeholds in 1993. Also, the New York City Council passed an ordinance last week criminalizing the maneuver. The state of New York also made police officers criminally liable if a suspect suffers injury or death due to a chokehold last month.
The NYPD also released body camera video of the incident to the public.
Police officers reportedly came into a confrontation with Bellevue when they responded to a complaint that Bellevue and two of his companions were harassing passersby and throwing objects at them. The officers initially instructed Bellevue and his companion to leave the area, but they refused, insisting on their right to not be moved along unless the officers intended to charge them with a crime.
Eventually, Bellevue and his compatriots turned to leave, but turned back for one more confrontation. Bellevue can be seen reaching into a nearby trash can and asking the officers if they were scared. At that point, he was subdued by multiple officers, including Afanador. Bellevue appears to lose consciousness during the video.
Bellevue was ultimately charged with disorderly conduct, obstructing governmental administration and resisting arrest. However, the district attorney’s office indicated that it would not pursue these charges against Bellevue.
Bellevue’s public defender told NBC News that Bellevue was hospitalized as a result of the incident and called for Afanador to be fired and prosecuted.
This marks the second time Afanador has been criminally prosecuted for his conduct on the job. He was also criminally charged in 2014 for allegedly pistol-whipping a 16-year-old during a marijuana bust, breaking two of his teeth. A judge acquitted him of those charges after a bench trial in 2016, and Afanador was reinstated to the force.