FIRED: Daniel Pantaleo
THE NEW York Police Department has fired a white officer who was involved in the fatal arrest of Eric Garner.
Daniel Pantaleo, who was filmed attempting to arrest Garner and restraining him with a deadly chokehold, lost his job as a New York City police officer yesterday.
Announcing the decision, which comes five years after Garner’s death, New York City Police Department commissioner James P O’Neill said that Garner should have decided against resisting arrest but said “a man with a family lost his life – and that is an irreversible tragedy”.
He described Pantaleo’s loss of career as “a different kind of tragedy”.
Speaking at a press conference, O’Neill said: “Officer Pantaleo is seen with his hands clasped together, and his left forearm pressed against Mr Garner’s neck in what does constitute a chokehold.”
O’Neill said the initial use of the chokehold was “acceptable” during the brief moment where there was a risk of falling through the window but that once this risk no longer existed Pantaleo continued to use the prohibited method of restraint.
“It is clear that Daniel Pantaleo can no longer effectively serve as a New York City police officer,” he added.
Footage of Garner’s attempted arrest went viral after he died after being placed in the controversial chokehold in July 2014.
Garner’s final words “I can’t breathe”, which he repeated 11 times before he died on the street, were adopted by Black Lives Matter activists in protests against police brutality.
DECISION: New York City Police Department commissioner James P O’Neill
In 2014, a grand jury decided not to press charges against Pantaleo. Last month, one day before the statute of limitations on the case expired, federal prosecutors announced that they would not press charges.
Garner’s family have said they will continue to fight for justice.
Emerald, Garner’s daughter, said the decision should have been made five years ago.
“We will be going for the congressional hearings, we will be trying to reopen the case, we will be going after the rest of the officers involved because it’s not over,” she said.
Eric Garner Jr, Garner’s son, told NY1 that he wants Pantaleo to go to prison.
Pantaleo, who had served for 13 years in the department, had been assigned to desk duty and then suspended after a departmental trial judge recommended his contract to be terminated earlier this month.
Deputy commissioner of trials Rosemarie Maldonado ruled that: “[Officer 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.”
Pantaleo will not receive his pension because of the decision. The money he paid into the pension fund will be returned to him.
His lawyer has said he expects to appeal the department’s decision, USA Today reported.