A former NYPD officer with a history of arrests will spend up to four years in prison for firing an illegally-possessed handgun into the Atlantic Ocean.

David Afanador, a 16-year veteran of the department, was sentenced by a Nassau County judge on Thursday for using an illegal firearm to “recklessly” fire multiple shots while drinking in Long Beach, according to the Nassau County District Attorney’s Office.

He faces between 16 months and four years in prison for the charge of criminal possession of a weapon charge, a felony.

At the time, Afanador, 41, was on leave from the NYPD, after placing a Black man in an apparent chokehold on Rockaway Beach – and becoming the first New York City police officer to be charged under the state’s anti-chokehold law. A grand jury ultimately did not indict him in that case.

A screenshot from body camera footage of officers holding the man down.


Despite being prohibited from carrying a firearm, Afanador was found by Long Beach police holding a Beretta pistol and two loaded magazines last March. Prosecutors said that he fired the weapon into the ocean while drinking spiked seltzers with a group of three other people.

Another woman, Jennifer Sonnick, was also arrested alongside Afanador for felony weapon possession. Her case is pending.

“Afanador’s behavior was foolish, dangerous, and illegal,” Nassau County District Attorney Anne T. Donnelly said in a statement. “We hope that his sentence sends a message to anyone thinking about illegally discharging a weapon in Nassau County in the name of fun.”

Afanador was previously arrested for allegedly pistol whipping a Black teenager during a 2014 marijuana arrest in Brooklyn. A judge in that case found him not guilty and he was allowed to return to the force.

Afanador's attorney, Edward V. Sapone, told Gothamist his client was "grateful to have resolved this case" with a non-violent offense.

"He is hopeful that he will be able to take advantage of programs that will enable him to return home well in advance of the one and one-third year minimum sentence we negotiated so he can start the next chapter of his life," he said.

This story was updated with a clarification and a comment from Afanador's attorney.