Published: Mon, August 19, 2019
Global News | By Blake Casey

Eric Garner: NY officer in 'I can't breathe' death fired

Eric Garner: NY officer in 'I can't breathe' death fired

New York City Police Commissioner James O'Neill just announced that he has made a decision to fire police officer Daniel Pantaleo, the man who killed Eric Garner in broad daylight.

Police commissioner James O'Neill announced Monday that he fired officer Daniel Pantaleo based on a recent recommendation of a department disciplinary judge. Rather, she said, Pantaleo "knew of the grave risks associated with prohibited chokeholds, and that by using one under these circumstances, he engaged in a gross deviation from the standard of conduct established for a New York City police officer".

O'Neill also said that it was not an "easy decision" to fire Pantaleo and that, had he been in the same situation, he "may have made similar mistakes".

"It was an extremely hard decision...it's not something that I could make over a few hours", O'Neill said. He said it was clear Pantaleo "can no longer effectively serve as a New York City police officer".

Garner attempted to resist the arrest, Mr. O'Neill said, leading officers to wrestle him to the ground, where Mr. Pantaleo applied a choke hold.

Police believed Garner was selling loose, untaxed cigarettes.

Garner's dying words of "I can't breathe" became a flash point in a national debate over race and police use of force.

What happened to Eric Garner?

A grand jury declined to indict Pantaleo. On August 2, Pantaleo was suspended.

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The documents show that Internal Affairs investigators interviewed Pantaleo on December 8, 2014.

Garner died just weeks before Michael Brown was fatally shot by a police officer in Ferguson, Missouri, and both cases sparked a national movement for police reform.

The "I can't breathe" phrase reflected the suffocating frustration with what activists said was a lack of police accountability after police killings of unarmed African Americans.

That explanation didn't make sense to Maldonado who in the 46-page document, described Pantaleo's chokehold denial as "implausible and self-serving".

'First, I found [Pantaleo] to be disingenuous when he viewed the video and denied using a chokehold, even though his actions were completely consistent with his own erroneous and restrictive definition of the Patrol Guide prohibition'.

"It was an extremely hard decision", O'Neill said, acknowledging that the move would likely anger rank-and-file officers.

'This tribunal finds that Respondent used a prohibited chokehold as defined by the Patrol Guide during this physical encounter, ' Maldonado continued.

Gwen Carr, mother of Eric Garner, joins others during a news conference outside of Police Headquarters in Manhattan to protest during the police disciplinary hearing for Officer Daniel Pantaleo, who was accused of recklessly using a chokehold that led to Eric Garner's death during an arrest in July 2014 on May 21, 2019 in New York City.

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