Things That Matter

An NYPD Officer Is Seen Choking A Black Man Just Days After Officials Banned The Use Of Chokeholds

Even though police brutality and the way officers systemically abuse Black Americans is finally gaining mainstream attention, officers continue to put Black lives at risk.

As the country struggles to figure out ways to move forward when it comes to addressing policing of Black communities – attacks on those communities continue. Over the weekend, a Black man in New York was attacked by an NYPD officer in what the police commissioner is calling an “apparent chokehold” – even though chokeholds have long been banned by the department.

A viral video shows an NYPD officer using a chokehold on a Black man as people shout at him to stop.

An NYPD officer has been suspended without pay after a video of him allegedly attacking a man in what the police commissioner has called an “apparent chokehold.”

A video shot by one of the man’s friends – who he was hanging out with – showed a group of NYPD officers tackling a black man, with one of them putting his arm around his neck as he lay face-down on the boardwalk. Several bystanders start to yell, “Stop choking him, bro!” But only after another officer tugs at the cop’s shirt – a move that has received praise from officials for some reason.

It wasn’t immediately clear if the man who was attacked by police suffered any serious injuries – but he was able to get up on his own after the cop got off of him.

The officer, who was identified by the New York Daily News and other local media outlets as David Afanador, was one of several seen in the video attempting to detain 35-year-old Ricky Bellevue, who has a history of mental illness, according to family members.

It’s still not exactly clear what provoked the officer to attack the man.

Credit: David Dee Delgado / Getty Images

Although the NYPD has already released body camera footage that shows at least 11 minutes of the interaction, it’s not exactly clear what happened between officers and Bellevue. In the police body cam video, you can see three men pacing back and forth and they are – at times – shouting at the officers. But at one point, the officers rushed the Black man and the ensuing struggle lasts for about 30 seconds.

In the aftermath, one officer’s body camera video captured him explaining the situation to a woman who turned up at the scene and said she was a relative of the man who had been handcuffed, and that he was mentally ill.

“They were all talking all types of crazy stuff to us and we did nothing,” he said. “What changed everything is when he grabbed something and squared up and was going to hit my officer.”

Some officials have spoken out in praise of officers who ‘intervened’ to stop the chokehold.

Even though the police who intervened was just doing what he should be doing, officials are praising him for his actions.

“The officer who intervened to stop his colleague did exactly the right thing,” Bill de Blasio tweeted Sunday night. “I commend him. That is what we need to see from all our officers.”

The Police Commissioner, Dermot Shea, said in a statement that “a full investigation is still underway, but there is no question in my mind that this immediate action is necessary.”

Meanwhile, New York City Mayor De Blasio tweeted: “This is the fastest I have ever seen the NYPD act to discipline an officer….This is how it needs to be.”

Although chokeholds have long been banned by the NYPD, they’re still commonly used.

Credit: David Dee Delgado / Getty Images

Although the NYPD has long had an official policy against chokeholds, they’ve still been commonly used. Their use has been especially controversial in the wake of the 2014 death of Eric Gardner, after an officer put him in a chokehold while trying to arrest him.

Meanwhile, at the city and state level – officials are trying to implement legal consequences for officers who continue to use chokeholds. New York’s Gov. Andrew Cuomo recently signed into law a sweeping package of police accountability measures including a ban on chokeholds following protests over George Floyd’s killing.

The New York City Council just passed a law last week making it a criminal misdemeanor for an officer to use a chokehold during an arrest, regardless of the level of injury that chokehold may have inflicted. And a new state law named for Eric Garner, deemed the technique a felony offense if the officer gravely injured or killed a person in the course of using it. While chokeholds have long been banned in the city, the new measures add layers of potential punishment for rule-breaking cops. 

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Mexican Army Wants To Pay Off Murder Victim’s Family With One Million Pesos In Cash

Things That Matter

Mexican Army Wants To Pay Off Murder Victim’s Family With One Million Pesos In Cash

ALFREDO ESTRELLA/AFP via Getty Images

The family of a man who was shot in the back and killed by a Mexican soldier is demanding better support from the Mexican military after officials offer them one million pesos, or about $49,000 USD.

Officials say that the Guatemalan man was in retreat from a military checkpoint near the southern border, when they admit that a soldier wrongfully shot at the man killing him.

Military officials are offering $1 million pesos to family of the Guatemalan man the army murdered.

The Mexican Army is offering 1 million pesos (about $49,000 USD) in compensation to the family of a Guatemalan man who was shot and killed by a Mexican soldier along a stretch of Mexico’s southern border.

The man, Elvin Mazariegos, 30, was killed by the army in the state of Chiapas by a soldier who opened fire on a car in which he was traveling with two other people.

According to Defense Minister Luis Cresencio Sandoval, the soldier shot at the vehicle as it tried to escape in reverse from a military checkpoint. He said the decision to shoot was an “erroneous reaction” because the military personnel hadn’t come under attack. The solider who shot Elvin Mazariegos was turned over to the federal Attorney General’s Office.

The family is asking for more support since Mazariegos was the family’s sole income earner.

Olga Mazariegos told the newspaper Reforma that the Mexican army had offered a single 1-million-peso payment to her brother’s family. But the family is also demanding monthly maintenance payments for Mazariego’s daughters, aged 9 and 5, and 2-year-old son, she said. She said their father was the sole income earner in his family.

“What we want is monthly maintenance, but they say that they’ll only give [a single payment of] approximately half a million quetzales,” Mazariegos said. At today’s exchange rate, 1 million pesos is in fact 377,300 quetzales.

The slain man’s sister said the army’s proposed payment will be insufficient for the man’s widow to maintain her family. “She’s left alone with her three children; what happened to my brother is not fair,” she said, adding that it was insulting for the army to say that his life was worth 1 million pesos.

Mazariegos murder comes as police brutality gains greater attention across Mexico.

Credit: PEDRO PARDO/AFP via Getty Images

Residents near the border (including Guatemalans) have demanded justice. About 300 angry residents detained 15 other soldiers also deployed near the border. Nine soldiers were released about three hours after they were detained, while the others were set free in the early hours of Tuesday morning after Mexican officials reached a deal with the civilians to provide them with “economic reparation” for the killing. The army chief didn’t reveal how much money was paid to the angry residents.

The killing of Mazariegos came just two days after the death of a Salvadoran woman who was violently pinned to the ground while she was being arrested by municipal police in Tulum, Quintana Roo.

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Police In Tulum Killed A Refugee By Kneeling On Her Neck And Mexicans Want Justice

Things That Matter

Police In Tulum Killed A Refugee By Kneeling On Her Neck And Mexicans Want Justice

PEDRO PARDO/AFP via Getty Images

So many of those attempting to reach the United States – or even Mexico in some cases – are already fleeing extreme violence, poverty, and fear. Refugees from Honduras and El Salvador (among other countries) are hoping to find a better life faraway from the corruption and danger that they face in their home countries.

But what happens when those same people fleeing violence in their home countries are met with state-sponsored violence on their journey to a better life? Unfortunately, at least one refugee, 36-year-old Victoria Esperanza Salazar, a mother of two teenage daughters, has lost her life while hoping for a better one.

Four police officers are in custody after the killing of a woman from El Salvador.

Four municipal police officers are in custody and under investigation for murder following the death of a Salvadoran woman who was violently pinned to the ground while she was being arrested in Tulum.

Video footage shows a female officer with her knee on the back of 36-year-old Victoria Esperanza Salazar, a mother of two teenage daughters who was living in Tulum on a humanitarian visa.

In the footage, Victoria, who was apparently arrested for disturbing the peace, can be heard moaning in pain and is seen writhing on the road next to a police vehicle as she was held down for more than 20 seconds. Three male police are also present, one of whom appears to help the female offer restrain Victoria. Footage then shows officers drag her limp body into the back of a police truck.

Many are comparing Victoria’s murder to that of George Floyd.

Many in Mexico are comparing Victoria’s death to the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis last summer, who also died pinned under an officer’s knee. Video shared on social media shows a police officer leaning on Salazar’s head and neck and she cries out, and then goes limp. Officers then drag her body into the back of a police truck.

Mexican officials have largely condemned the officers’ actions and the Attorney General said that the officers — three men and one woman — will be charged with femicide. The charge of femicide carries a penalty of no less than 40 years in prison. The police actions violated the national law on the use of force, the Attorney General’s Office said. 

Victoria’s death comes as millions of Mexican women demand that the authorities do more to combat gender violence in Mexico, where an average of 11 women are killed every day. Her alleged murder also occurred as Mexican authorities ramp up enforcement against mainly Central American migrants traveling through Mexico to seek asylum in the United States.

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