UPDATE: 2:00 p.m. EDT —
BuzzFeed reports Daniel Pantaleo has been suspended. The NYPD released the following statement, “All of New York City understandably seeks closure to this difficult chapter in our City’s history. Premature statements or judgments before the process is complete however cannot and will not be made. In order to protect the integrity of the trial proceedings and conclusion, the NYPD will not comment further until the Police Commissioner makes the final determination.”
UPDATE: 12:25 p.m. EDT —
Eric Garner‘s family was reacting to an NYPD administrative judge on Friday morning recommending that the officer who killed the unarmed Black man be fired from the police force.
Garner’s mother said it gave her “some relief” after an NYPD administrative judge on Friday morning recommended that the officer who killed her son be fired from the police force.
Gwen Carr released a brief statement about the recommendation to fire Daniel Pantaleo more than five years after he used an illegal chokehold on Garner on the streets of Staten Island. In her statement, she blamed the delay in justice for her son on New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, who on Wednesday during a presidential debate vowed that Garner’s family would have justice within “30 days.” Carr also said the other NYPD officers present at the time her son was killed should be fired, as well.
Carr’s full statement follows:
“My family and I have been fighting for five long years for justice and accountability for Eric’s murder – and Mayor de Blasio and the NYPD have put up roadblocks and delays every step of the way. It brings me some relief to learn that Judge Maldonado has recommended that Pantaleo be fired – but the recommendation is long overdue, I’m still not allowed to see Maldonado’s report and we still have a ways to go before there is true accountability for Eric’s murder. It’s past time for Mayor Bill de Blasio and the NYPD to end their obstruction, stop spreading misleading talking points and finally take action for my son.
“Pantaleo must immediately be put on unpaid suspension so that he doesn’t continue to profit from the murder of my son, he should be stripped of his badge and weapons immediately, and he should be fired without a pension, benefits or a ‘good guy letter’.
“A disciplinary trial for Sgt. Kizzy Adonis must be scheduled immediately, and all officers responsible for my son’s death and for engaging in misconduct to cover it up must be charged and fired – including Justin D’Amico and Lt. Christopher Bannon.
“My son deserves more than recommendations; he deserves justice. New Yorkers deserve to know that police who kill our children and those who try to cover it up will be fired from the NYPD so that they don’t get paid with our taxpayer dollars to be a danger to us. I will continue to fight – and I’m asking everyone who supports me in NYC and around the country to continue to fight – until there is accountability for Eric and for all New Yorkers, and until Pantaleo and all of these officers who engaged in misconduct related to Eric’s murder have been fired from the NYPD.”
An NYPD administrative judge on Friday morning recommended that the officer who used an illegal chokehold to kill Eric Garner more than five years ago be fired from the police force. The recommendation to fire Daniel Pantaleo came from NYPD Deputy Commissioner of Trials Rosemarie Maldanado nearly two months after the conclusion of an administrative trial.
That said, this was not the final step. The decision whether Pantaleo actually loses his job, and pension, rested solely with NYPD Commissioner James O’Neill. There was speculation O’Neill would move quickly.
The recommendation followed years of futility and inaction in getting justice for the brazen broad-daylight killing of an unarmed Black man that was recorded on video for the world to see. A Staten Island grand jury declined to bring criminal charges against Pantaleo in 2014. Then, right before the fifth anniversary of the killing last month, Trump’s Attorney General William Barr and the Justice Department said Pantaleo would not be charged federally. That was all in spite of the fact that a New York medical examiner in 2014 ruled Garner’s death a homicide.
One anti-police brutality group said firing Pantaleo should be followed up with firing the other officers who helped cause Garner’s death.
“In recommending that NYPD Officer Daniel Pantaleo be fired, Deputy Commissioner of Trials Rosemarie Maldonado made the only just decision possible after presiding over Pantaleo’s disciplinary trial,” the Justice Committee said in a brief statement following the recommendation on Friday. “The evidence has been clear to the whole world since day one, thanks to video taken by brave witnesses: Pantaleo, along with multiple other officers, illegally and violently caused Eric Garner’s death on July 17, 2014.”
The NYPD’s administrative trial to determine Pantaleo’s fate ended on June 6 following a handful of delays more than three weeks after it began. At the time, the Civil Complaint Review Board (CCRB) repeated its stance for Pantaleo to be fired.
“CCRB recommends a penalty of termination without his pension,” prosecuting lawyer Suzanne O’Hare said as part of her closing arguments. “Officer Pantaleo forfeited his right and privilege to be a police officer in the city of New York.”
One previously unknown fact revealed from the trial was that an NYPD officer admitted that he trumped up already bogus 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 at the time.
Earlier in the trial, it was also revealed that NYPD Lt. Christopher Bannon was texting with another officer shortly after Pantaleo’s violently killing in Staten Island, where Garner was rushed to Richmond University Medical Center. When Bannon was told that Garner didn’t have a pulse, Bannon texted back: “Not a big deal.”
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.
Let’s hope NYPD Commissioner James O’Neill makes the right decision and fires Pantaleo.