HLS Professors Win Case for Former Buffalo Police Officer Fired for Intervening in a Chokehold

April 20, 2021

Last summer, two Harvard Law School Professors, Ronald S. Sullivan Jr. ’94 and CMES affiliate Intisar A. Rabb, took on the case of former Buffalo Police Officer Cariol Horne, who was fired after she intervened to stop a fellow officer who was using a chokehold against a handcuffed Black man in 2006. In a team that included two lawyers from Kirkland & Ellis, W. Neil Eggleston, who served as White House Counsel to President Barack Obama ’91 and is a lecturer at HLS, and Kamran S. Bajwa, they filed suit against the City of Buffalo and the Buffalo Police Department. Relying on an arcane legal theory, they argued the court should reach back in time and vindicate Horne, and on April 13, the judge agreed. He vacated a 2010 court judgment that affirmed Horne’s firing, annulled the factual findings by which she was fired, retroactively reinstated her to the force from 2008-10 so that she was entitled to her full pension, and ordered the city to grant her back pay and benefits. Read an interview with Sullivan and Rabb about the case and its implications for policing nationally in Harvard Law Today.