The Queens Grand Jury has refused to indict the first NYPD officer charged under the Chuckhold ban
The first New York police officer to face charges under New York’s anti-choking law was acquitted by a grand jury in Queens on Tuesday.
David Avanador, who left the department due to unrelated legal issues earlier this year, was too Filmed putting a black man in apparent strangulation On the Rockaway Beach boardwalk last June. Video of the incident shows the officer putting his arm around the neck of Ricky Bellevue, who appears to have lost consciousness, as bystanders plead with the officer to release him.
Commented by NYPD and charged with aggravated strangulation by Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz under a new state law passed just nine days before the accident. The arrest came as protests over the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis were roiling New York City – and Avanador’s lawyer dismissed them as a product of Huge political pressure.
More than a year later, Queens DA revealed on Tuesday that it did not secure indictments. Katz said in a statement that she will publish the minutes of the sessions for the sake of transparency.
Avanador had previously been acquitted of charges relating to Allegedly hitting a 16-year-old with a black pistol He broke two of his teeth during a marijuana arrest. The allegations were substantiated by the NYPD Civil Complaints Review Board, records show, and Avanador was suspended for one month, before returning to the streets.
Earlier this year, Avanador was arrested for allegedly firing his pistol into the Atlantic Ocean. He was suspended without pay, and resigned from the department in March.
Reverend Kevin McCall, a spokesman for the Bellevue family, said he was disappointed with the grand jury’s decision not to indict.
“This is the third time he’s landed with a slap on his wrist,” McCaul said. “He needs some time in prison to deal with his problems.”
Bellevue is currently imprisoned on Rikers Island, after he flashed a box cutter on a subway during what McCall described as a mental health episode. The civil lawsuit against the NYPD and Avanador is still ongoing.
McCaul said he called on the Justice Department to open an investigation into the case. “If we can’t get justice in Queens, we’ll take our fight to Washington,” he added.
A lawyer for Avanador did not respond to a request for comment.