NYPD officer in ‘chokehold’ video is focus of criminal probe

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n this photo taken from police body cam video, New York Police officers arrest a man on a boardwalk Sunday, June 21, 2020, in New York. New York City Police Commissioner Dermot Shea says a police officer was quickly suspended without pay after putting his arm around the man's neck because we are living in "unprecedented times." Shea announced the suspension on Sunday just hours after the officer used what the commissioner called "an apparent chokehold" during a confrontation on a boardwalk in the Rockaway section of Queens. (NYPD via AP)

By KAREN MATTHEWS and MICHAEL R. SISAK (AP)

A New York City police officer suspended from duty after he was recorded Sunday putting a man in what the police commissioner said was a banned chokehold could face criminal charges for the second time in his career.

Queens prosecutors said Monday they’ve opened an investigation into Officer David Afanador’s actions on the boardwalk at Rockaway Beach, adding that “there must be zero tolerance for police misconduct.”

Afanador was acquitted in a previous case stemming from allegations he pistol-whipped a teenage suspect in Brooklyn and broke two of his teeth.

The police department moved quickly to suspend Afanador without pay after Sunday’s confrontation. Police Commissioner Dermot Shea announced his suspension just hours after video was posted on social media and called the swift action a sign of “unprecedented times.”

“I think we have an obligation to act swiftly but we also have to get it right and to inform the public about what’s going on,” Shea told TV station NY1 on Monday.

It’s at least the second time Afanador has been suspended from the force. The officer was sidelined after his 2014 arrest, only to return to duty after a judge acquitted him and his partner of all charges in 2016.

In that case, Afanador was seen on video using his gun to hit a 16-year-old boy during a marijuana bust. The beating continued until the boy dropped to the ground and was handcuffed. That altercation, which came six weeks after the police chokehold death of Eric Garner, also made headlines.

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