Just over five years since the death of Eric Garner, a New York Administrative Law Judge has called for the firing of Daniel Pantaleo, the officer who put Garner in a chokehold. The decision whether or not to fire Pantaleo will be made by the police commissioner James O’Neal sometime this month. From NBC News:
The NYPD announced that the officer has been suspended effective Friday in keeping with longstanding practice when there is a recommendation for firing.
News of the finding by the judge, who is deputy commissioner of trials for the NYPD, was applauded by Garner’s family.
“This has been a long battle. Five years too long. And finally, someone has said this cop has done something wrong,” Garner’s daughter, Emerald Garner Snipes, said at a news conference following news of the recommendation.
They NYPD issued a statement noting Pantaleo’s suspension pending a final outcome. That statement also said, “All of New York City understandably seeks closure to this difficult chapter in our City’s history.”
Garner was pulled to the ground by police during an arrest for selling loose cigarettes in July 2014. Officer Pantaleo was seen with his arm around Garner’s neck. Garner, who had asthma repeatedly said, “I can’t breathe” before going into cardiac arrest. A medical examiner ruled Garner’s death a homicide and determined that the chokehold was responsible for setting off the sequence of events that resulted in his death. The doctor who performed the autopsy on Garner testified in Pantaleo’s disciplinary trial back in May.
The doctor, Floriana Persechino, said the officer’s chokehold and the compression of Mr. Garner’s chest during his arrest on Staten Island in 2014 “set into motion a lethal sequence.”
Though Mr. Garner had high blood pressure and chronic asthma, Dr. Persechino, a veteran city medical examiner, stood by her finding that his death was a homicide caused by the officer’s use of force. “The chokehold is a significant initial factor of the cascade,” she said…
Narrating graphic photos of Mr. Garner’s body, Dr. Persechino said on Wednesday that internal bleeding visible in four layers of soft tissue from his neck indicated the use of a chokehold that set off the asthma attack.
Mayor de Blasio is apparently trying to stay out of the decision, at least publicly. At a news conference he called the ALJ call to fire Pantaleo, “a step towards justice and accountability.” However when asked directly if Pantaleo should be fired he would only say, “Again, what I am talking about today is a fair and impartial process has occurred. That’s all I have to say.”
Finally, the NY City Police Benevolent Association issued a statement about the judge’s decision calling it “political insanity” and predicting the NYPD will be paralyzed if Pantaleo is fired. This is probably why de Blasio is eager to appear hands off at this moment.
#BREAKING Lynch Blasts Pantaleo Decision: “Pure Political Insanity”
The only hope for justice now lies with Police Commissioner O’Neill. He knows the message that this decision sends to every cop: we are expendable, and we cannot expect any support from the city we protect. pic.twitter.com/jAU4ED0Bzc
— NYC PBA (@NYCPBA) August 2, 2019