A Queens grand jury declined to indict a former NYPD cop caught on camera appearing to choke a man until he passed out — the first criminal case brought against a police officer after the state made chokeholds illegal.
David Afanador was cleared of criminal strangulation charges Tuesday nearly 15 months after cell phone video went viral capturing the arrest of 35-year-old Ricky Bellevue on the Rockaway boardwalk on June 21.
Afanador, 40, can be seen in the 29-second clip video with his arms around Bellevue’s neck as three other cops try to handcuff him.
One of the onlookers can be heard in the video yelling, “Yo, stop choking him, bro!” before Bellevue goes limp.
Another person then yells out, “Look, he’s out. Look officer, he’s out.”
Afanador lets go of Bellevue after he’s tapped on the back by another cop who tells him to “back off.”
“While the law prohibits me from discussing the proceedings that took place in front of the grand jury, in the interest of transparency I am moving to have the minutes of the grand jury hearings unsealed,” Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz said in a statement.
The arrest of Afanador came as protesters took the streets nationwide to speak out against police brutality in the wake of George Floyd’s death.
Floyd’s death spurred a number of police reforms in New York, including one that made it a criminal offense to use chokeholds.
Afanador was the first officer charged under the new law.
Chokeholds have been banned by the NYPD for years, but the tactics came under scrutiny after the death of Eric Garner in 2016.
Afanador has had other run-ins with the law.
Last March, he was arrested on Long Island after allegedly firing a .9mm semi-automatic handgun into the ocean, sources said at the time.
He resigned from the force in the following days, a police spokesperson confirmed.
The former cop was also accused back in 2016 of pistol-whipping a teen but was cleared in that case as well.