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NYPD officer arrested on strangulation charges after caught-on-camera incident

No Comments National News


(NEW YORK) — A New York City police officer with a history of excessive force accusations turned himself in on Thursday, four days after he allegedly was seen on video using a recently banned chokehold on a suspect.

David Afanador faces up to seven years in prison on charges of strangulation and attempted strangulation if he’s convicted.

The 39-year-old, represented by veteran police union attorney Stephen Worth, entered a plea of not guilty.

The June 21 incident was captured on a bystander’s cellphone and posted on social media. In the video, Afanador and other officers are seen surrounding Ricky Bellevue, who’s face down on the Rockaway Beach boardwalk.

Afanador allegedly placed Bellevue in a chokehold as other officers handcuffed him.

Within seconds, the 35-year-old man’s body appears to go limp as he loses consciousness, according to a press release from prosecutors.

Only after another police officer pulls on Afanador’s back does he remove his arm from around Bellevue’s neck, the video allegedly shows.

According to the press release, footage from body cameras shows the officers were cursed at and badgered.

“We will fight this case vigorously,” Worth said.

Earlier this month, Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed the Eric Garner Anti-Chokehold Act that banned chokeholds throughout New York.

“The ink from the pen Gov. Cuomo used to sign this legislation was barely dry before this officer allegedly employed the very tactic the new law was designed to prohibit,” Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz said in the press release. “Police officers are entrusted to serve and protect — and the conduct alleged here cannot be tolerated. This police officer is now a defendant and is accused of using a chokehold, a maneuver we know has been lethal.”

Hours after the video went viral, Afanador was suspended, an internal review was launched and the Queens District Attorney’s Office began a criminal investigation.

Bellevue suffered injuries to his head and neck and was not charged with a crime, according his attorney Sanford Rubenstein.

Prosecutor Christine Oliveri consented to release Afanador on his own recognizance, and he was ordered to surrender his passport.

“He has no criminal history, and we are confident he will come back to court,” Oliveri added.

Queens Criminal Court Judge Danielle Hartman agreed to release Afanador without bail and ordered him to stay away from Bellevue.

The 14-year veteran is expected back in court Aug. 3.

“The arrest of NYPD Officer David Afanador is the first step in getting justice for Ricky Bellevue. The next step is for this police officer to be convicted and sentenced to jail,” Rubenstein added.

This is not the first time Afanador has been accused of using excessive force.

When Afanador was with the 77th Precinct in Brooklyn, he and his partner were charged by the Brooklyn District District Attorney’s Office for beating a 16-year-old alleged drug suspect. The 2014 incident was captured on surveillance video and allegedly showed Afanador pistol-whipping the teenager in the mouth, breaking some of his teeth.

After a 2016 bench trial, Afanador testified on his own behalf and told Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Danny Chun that the injuries Kaheem Tribble sustained were not intentional. The judge acquitted Afanador and his partner of assault, official misconduct and criminal possession of a weapon, court records show.

The federal lawsuit Tribble’s mother filed against the city and officers was discontinued in 2018 after the criminal case ended without a conviction, according to court documents.

Prior to the Tribble case, Afanador was one of several officers named in three federal civil rights lawsuits where restitutions of $70,000 and $37,500 were awarded in two of the cases.

In an October 2008 incident, Afanador and four other officers from the 77th Precinct were accused of unlawfully stopping Ranique Williams while he tried to photograph the officers conducting a strip search in the street, according to a lawsuit filed in the Eastern District. Williams further claimed he was subjected to a false arrest and assaulted.

The lawsuit settled for $37,500 in April 2010 with no admission of wrongdoing, according to court records.

In March 2011, Afanador and two other officers with the 77th Precinct allegedly jumped the curb in an unmarked car and cut off George Smith from walking. During the stop-and-frisk, Smith injured his shoulder and knee, and broke his clavicle, according to a lawsuit filed in federal court.

The officers were accused in the lawsuit of falsifying a police report, in an attempt to justify stopping Smith. Smith filed complaints with the Internal Affairs Bureau and the Civilian Complaint Review Board. The lawsuit settled for an undisclosed amount in 2013 with no admission of wrongdoing.

The following year, Afanador and two other officers were accused in another federal lawsuit of unlawfully entering a family’s apartment without identifying themselves. The officers allegedly ransacked the apartment and caused neighbors to intervene where racists comments were made by an unidentified officer, according to the lawsuit.

The lawsuit settled for $70,000, according to online records.

Since the 2014 fiscal year, the total cost incurred to address the consequences of alleged NYPD misconduct has amounted to some $1.3 billion, according to the city’s comptroller office.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

'Normal People' stars reunite for 'Comic Relief'; 'Conversations with Friends' coming to Hulu

No Comments Entertainment News

Enda Bowe/Hulu(DUBLIN) — If the ending of Normal People left you wanting more, you’re in luck.

According to the U.K.’s The Independent, Paul Mescal and Daisy Edgar-Jones, who played star-crossed lovers Connell and Marianne in the Hulu drama, will be reuniting for a couple of comedic shorts for Ireland’s Comic Relief Friday.

The shorts, directed by series helmer Lenny Abrahamson, will be titled Normal Older People and will pick up Connell and Marianne’s relationship 40 years into the future. No word yet on where you can watch these shorts in the U.S., but they’ll likely hit the internet in some form.

There’s also good news for fans of Normal People author Sally Rooney. Her 2017 debut novel, Conversations with Friends, is being made into a Hulu series.  Hulu has ordered 12-episodes of the half-hour drama, in partnership with BBC Three. Abrahamson is on board to direct this as well.

“After bringing that to life in Normal People to an overwhelmingly positive response, we are honored to do the same with Conversations with Friends,” Beatrice Springborn, Hulu’s VP of content, says in a statement.

Conversations with Friends follows two Dublin college students as they become entangled with an older married couple.

By Andrea Tuccillo
Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

First post-pandemic movie premiere had face masks and temperature checks

No Comments Entertainment News

Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images(HOLLYWOOD) — The first red carpet movie premiere since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic took place in Hollywood Wednesday night, complete with face masks, temperature checks and social distancing measures.

According to Variety, each guest at the screening and party for indie comedy aTypical Wednesday had their temperature taken before entering The Montalban Theater Rooftop Cinema. All attendees — about 60 of them — were required to wear face masks.

Only six photographers were present on the socially-distanced red carpet.

“The premiere kind of happened out of nowhere,” aTypical Wednesday writer, director and star J. Lee told Variety. “The theater said they got approval from the city as long as we keep it to a certain number and gave everyone a lot of space. I was just thinking, ‘How can I celebrate the win because it’s so hard to get anything made and how can I do it safely and smartly?’”

The last official red carpet event, the premiere for the film Bloodshot, took place more than three months ago, on March 10.

aTypical Wednesday will be released on VOD June 26.

By Andrea Tuccillo
Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Saharan dust plume heads to US skies this weekend

No Comments National News


(NEW YORK) — The skies over the East Coast and South are going to be a bit dusty this weekend.

A massive dust plume from the Sahara desert is already making its way through the southern part of the U.S. and will envelop cities between Texas and New York by Sunday.

While the scope of the plume may seem large, it won’t produce a haboob — or low-level dust cloud — as the air layer will be between 5,000 and 20,000 feet in the atmosphere.

Nevertheless, health experts say it still poses risks to people with respiratory problems. It can also cause sinus problems and itchy eyes, nose and throat for people who are sensitive to those symptoms.

At the same time, the Saharan Air Layer will have a colorful effect on the horizon. The dust will affect the sunset and give the sky different shades of red during the end of the day.

The Saharan Air Layer is transported westward by bursts of strong winds and tropical waves located in the central and western Atlantic Ocean. It typically peaks between June and August.

The dust typically hits the Western Hemisphere every 3 to 5 days but it is usually in smaller encompassments. It also suppresses hurricane activity and development in the Atlantic Ocean.

The dust plume covered the skies around the Caribbean earlier this week.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Chris Lane’s wife gushes over their marriage, shares that they’ve been “praying hard” to start a family

No Comments Country Music News

ABC/John FleenorChris Lane and his wife, Lauren Bushnell, know that not everything comes easily in a marriage. In an emotional new “husband appreciation” Instagram post, Lauren reveals that they’ve been patiently trying to start a family, and dealing with the waiting game has only strengthened their bond.

“I am very excited to start a family and get asked when we are having kids ALL the time, but it just hasn’t happened yet,” she writes, going on to explain how touched she was by her husband’s reaction to her frustration.

“He said, ‘Well, have you prayed about it?’ I said, ‘Well, yes.’” she recounts. “And he responded, ‘Have you really prayed hard about it?’ If that’s what we really want, pray, and know it will happen in God’s time if that’s what he wants for us! I’ll pray with you!’”

Chris’ reaction was a major reminder to Lauren about why she fell in love with her husband in the first place.

“I am so lucky I get to walk up next to you every morning, lucky I get to pray next to you and am continually humbled by your heart of gold,” she gushed.

Meanwhile, during the COVID-19 pandemic, Chris has been reliving his headlining 2018 tour, releasing a series of live videos of some of his biggest hits. One of those is the video for “Big, Big Plans,” which he wrote and performed as part of his proposal to Lauren.

By Carena Liptak
Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

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