Daniel Pantaleo‘s attempt to be a cop again was rejected by an appellate court on Thursday, providing what will likely be the final nail in the disgraced former police officer’s coffin of a career in law enforcement. The Appellate Division of the Supreme Court, First Judicial Department upheld the recommendation by NYPD Deputy Commissioner of Trials Rosemarie Maldonado to fire Pantaleo, who was terminated more than two months after the conclusion of his NYPD administrative trial in 2019.
The three appeals court judges were unanimous in their decision on Thursday, the New York Post reported.
“Substantial evidence supports respondents’ conclusion that [Pantaleo] recklessly caused injury to Eric Garner by maintaining a prohibited chokehold for 9 to 10 seconds after exigent circumstances were no longer present, thereby disregarding the risk of injury,” they wrote in their ruling.
That was consistent with Maldonado’s ruling in 2019 when she determined that Pantaleo’s “use of a prohibited chokehold was reckless and constituted a gross deviation from the standard of conduct established for a New York City police officer.”
The judges on Thursday added: “we do not find the penalty ‘so disproportionate to the offense, in light of all the circumstances, as to be shocking to one’s sense of fairness.'”
More than three months later, Pantaleo sued to be reinstated in the NYPD. His lawyer, Stuart London, said at the time that Pantaleo “used a reasonable amount of force and did not mean to hurt Garner.”
On Thursday, London lamented that Pantaleo was “disappointed” and left the door open for additional legal action in the future.
“We will carefully examine the decision to determine our next course of action,” London said after the court denied Pantaleo’s appeal to rejoin the NYPD.
The New York State Supreme Court announced in September that it would officially review how the NYPD handled its violent arrest of Garner.
“Although the arrest and death of Eric Garner has received considerable attention in the press over the past six years, many facts relating to his arrest and death, and the investigations and any disciplinary actions taken in response to his death, have not been disclosed to the public or to the family of Mr. Garner,” New York State Supreme Court Judge Joan Madden wrote in her decision at the time.
Garner’s mother, Gwen Carr, has been fighting for this review for years and petitioned for a summary judicial inquiry, which CNN defined as “a procedure created by the New York City charter that allows for certain people to be allowed to petition a judge to conduct an inquiry into ‘any alleged violation or neglect of duty in relation to … the government or affairs of the city’ in which the people being investigated may be required to attend and be questioned.”
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 wrapped his arms tightly around Garner’s neck from behind. 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 have maintained that his death was a murder.
A medical examiner testified that Garner died of asthma caused by Pantaleo’s chokehold.
The Staten Island grand jury and the Department of Justice inexplicably declined to bring any criminal charges against Pantaleo.
Aside from Pantaleo, the only other member of the NYPD held somewhat accountable for actions on that fateful day is a Black woman officer named Kizzy Adonis. She was forced to forfeit 20 vacation days. Adonis could only be seen standing in the background of the video on which Pantaleo choked Garner. Nonetheless, the New York Times reported at the time that, “The police commissioner found fault with her handling of the encounter, according to an official who requested anonymity to discuss the case because police disciplinary matters are confidential.”
This is America.