Recorded on video using a banned chokehold on Eric Garner in the moments before his death, NYPD Officer Daniel Pantaleo was terminated from the department on Monday. Although a state grand jury declined to press criminal charges against Pantaleo, a recent disciplinary trial recommended that he be fired for violating official policy.
On July 17, 2014, Pantaleo and several other NYPD officers attempted to arrest Garner for allegedly selling loose cigarettes on the street. As Garner began to argue with the officers, Pantaleo placed Garner in a chokehold even though the maneuver has been banned by the department since 1993.
According to city medical examiner spokeswoman Julie Bolcer, Garner was killed by neck compressions from the chokehold and during physical restraint by the police. She added that asthma, heart disease, and obesity had been contributing factors in the 43-year-old’s death.
After the incident, Pantaleo was removed from patrol duty and has remained on administrative duty for the past 5 years. On Monday, NYPD officials announced that Pantaleo has been terminated for using a banned chokehold on Garner during the arrest.
“It is clear that Daniel Pantaleo can no longer effectively serve as a New York City police officer,” asserted NYPD Commissioner James O’Neill at a press conference on Monday.
“There are absolutely no victors here today, not the Garner family, not the community at large, and certainly not the courageous men and women of the police department who put their own lives on the line every single day in service to people of this great city.”
O’Neill added, “It’s my responsibility as police commissioner to look out for the city and certainly to look out for New York City police officers. They took this job to make a difference. You all know the city has been transformed — had a lot of help, but it’s the cops out there right now and the thousands that have come before who continue to make this city safe.”
“Commissioner O’Neill, I thank you for doing the right thing,” Emerald Snipes Garner, one of Eric Garner’s daughter, told reporters during a press conference at the Harlem headquarters of the National Action Network. “I truly, sincerely thank you for firing the officer, regardless to however you came up to your decision. You finally made the decision that should’ve been made by five years ago.”
“We watched a fair and impartial trial. We watched an objective decision by a deputy commissioner of the NYPD, affirmed by the first deputy commissioner and affirmed by the police commissioner,” New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio told reporters at City Hall. “Justice has been done. And that decision has resulted in the termination of officer Pantaleo.”
The mayor continued, “For the Garner family, which has gone through so much agony for so long and has waited this long just to have one trial finally conclude with a decision. I hope today brings some small measure of closure.”
“Today Daniel Pantaleo lost his job but five years ago, Eric Garner lost his life,” Rev. Al Sharpton stated. The reverend added that the decision came “five years too late, and [caused] five years of pain and misery that will never end for this family.”
Pantaleo’s attorney, Stu London, told reporters that his client plans to appeal the termination. According to Commissioner O’Neill, if the termination stands, Pantaleo would still be entitled to all of the pension benefits that he had accrued up until Monday.