The administrative trial for Daniel Pantaleo, the New York Police Department (NYPD) officer who killed Eric Garner in July of 2014, has shown just how trifling law enforcement has been in the city. Case and point, an NYPD officer admitted on Tuesday that he trumped up the charges against Garner in an effort to justify his chokehold death.
“Officer Justin Damico testified that after riding in an ambulance with the dying Garner, he went ahead on his own and filled out arrest papers listing a felony tax charge that would have required prosecutors to prove Garner, a small-time street hustler, had sold 10,000 untaxed cigarettes,” the Associated Press reported.
Yep, you read that right. Garner’s body wasn’t even cold and this vile officer lied on a dead man.
The deplorable Damico “acknowledged that the felony charge was incorrect because Garner actually had with him five packs of Newports that contained a total of less than 100 cigarettes.” This was Damico’s first time speaking publicly about the case.
Just last week, it was reported that NYPD Lt. Christopher Bannon and Sgt. Dhanan Saminath were texting shortly after Pantaleo used a banned chokehold on Garner in Staten Island. When learning Garner might be dead on arrival at the hospital, Bannon then sent the following text, “Not a big deal.”
Sadly, Garner’s family has had to endure this administrative trial for a man who has not paid for killing someone on camera.
Garner was approached by undercover NYPD officers on July 17, 2014, for the alleged offense of selling untaxed loose cigarettes. When officers failed at handcuffing him for the nonviolent misdemeanor, Pantaleo was caught on video with his arms wrapped tightly around Garner’s neck from behind. The chokehold ultimately killed Garner. The entire deadly episode was captured on cellphone video and filmed by a bystander. Garner’s final words “I can’t breathe” — became a rallying call for social justice advocates who saw his death as a murder.
The NYPD, which only began disciplinary proceedings against Pantaleo last year, has claimed Garner died from his own health issues, not the illegal chokehold the world saw Pantaleo use during the killing.
Pantaleo won’t face any prison time since a grand jury declined to indict him, but he could lose his job depending on the trial’s outcome. However, the trial’s verdict may not be made public immediately. The decision “will be sent to the police commissioner, James P. O’Neill, who has the authority to uphold, modify or even vacate the ruling,” the New York Times reported.