The NYPD officer who used an illegal chokehold on Eric Garner before the unarmed Black man was killed more than five years ago in Staten Island was suspended on Friday after an administrative judge recommended he be fired. But Daniel Pantaleo was still on the payroll and earning his six-figure salary while NYPD Commissioner James O’Neill decided how to proceed.
While CNN reported that it was expected O’Neill would fire Pantaleo swiftly, Garner’s family was reacting to the news that his mother said gave her “some relief.” However, there was still much more work to be done in order to achieve some semblance of justice, members of Garner’s family, civil rights groups and elected officials said on Friday.
“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,” Garner’s mother, Gwen Carr, said in part of a statement she released. “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.”
De Blasio just this week during a presidential debate vowed that Garner’s family would have justice within “30 days.”
Carr went on to say that in addition to Pantaleo being fired, the other NYPD officers who were on the scene as her son died should also lose their jobs — a sentiment widely shared by civil rights groups.
One of Garner’s daughters called on O’Neill to “fire Pantaleo,” saying his termination was way overdue.
“This has been a long battle,” Emerald Garner said in part on Friday. “Five years too long.” She said she is asking for “congressional hearings” and vowed to “keep fighting.”
Emerald Garner and her brother Eric Jr. were joined by the Rev. Al Sharpton, who also repeated his calls for justice.
“The City should not have in it’s employ someone who would choke to death, in violation of police guidelines, someone who hears someone say 11 times ‘I can’t breathe,’” Sharpton reportedly said.
Anti-police brutality group the Justice Committee called on the other officers who “illegally and violently caused Eric Garner’s death” to be held accountable along with Pantaleo.
“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,” Justice Committee Co-Director Loyda Colon said in a brief statement. “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 recommendation came just hours after President Donald Trump held a rally where he was accused of mocking Eric Garner.
New York City Public Advocate Jumaane D. Williams called for police “accountability” in Garner’s death.
“The judge confirmed what many of us have known for years – Daniel Pantaleo used a banned chokehold and killed Eric Garner. The world saw it on camera, heard Eric Garner say ‘I can’t breathe’ eleven times, watched Pantaleo ignore those pleas. It has always been clear that he should be fired – that removing him from the NYPD is the absolute minimum of what some semblance of justice looks like,” Williams said in part. “I turn to Commissioner O’Neill and Mayor de Blasio. All of the work done toward better policing in this city is overshadowed if there is no accountability for someone who killed a man on camera. Accept this recommendation, and the refrain echoed for five long years from the streets of this city to the stage in Detroit. Fire Pantaleo.”