NYPD officer in Eric Garner case fired
Here's what you need to know about today's decision:
- He will not receive his pension: Pantaleo, the New York police officer accused of fatally choking Eric Garner in 2014, has been fired and will not receive his NYPD pension, Commissioner James O'Neill said today.
- What his attorney said: Pantaleo's attorney, Stu London, said that Pantaleo was "disappointed" and "upset," but said that they planned to appeal the decision.
- What Garner's family said about the decision: Garner's daughter Emerald thanked O'Neill for making the decision and promised to continue fighting for justice so that this doesn't happen again. Garner's mother, Gwen Carr, said during a rally that she too would continue fighting for her son.
- A federal investigation: The Justice Department announced in July that it would not be pursuing federal charges against Pantaleo. The decision was apparently made by Attorney General William Barr himself after the DOJ's Civil Rights Division favored an indictment while a competing faction in the New York office felt otherwise. This announcement came five years after Garner's death. The decision stemmed from concerns that prosecutors could not successfully prove the officer acted willfully, a senior Justice Department official said.
- An internal investigation: Pantaleo faced two charges: one for using a chokehold and the other for restricting the man's breathing. Earlier this month, an internal NYPD judge recommended Pantaleo be fired.
Eric Garner’s mother Gwen Carr said that while it’s been disheartening to go through this process, she’s not finished.
“We have other officers that we have to go after. You have heard the names. We know the wrongdoing that they have done,” Carr said, referring to other officers at the scene when her son died. “So I would like the press to put it out there, show the pictures, say the names, do the roll call because they all need to lose their jobs.”
“But I’m still out here, I’m out here for the long run. You come out here against me, I’m out here,” Carr told reporters. “And you cannot scare me away. Yeah Pantaleo, you may have lost your job, but I lost a son.”
Rep. Jerry Nadler, a Democrat from New York, is weighing in on today's decision to fire officer Daniel Pantaleo from the New York City Police Department.
Nadler said the decision to terminate Pantaleo, who is accused of fatally choking Eric Garner in 2014, shouldn't have taken so long.
"Firing him was the right thing to do, but it should not have taken so many years for such a limited measure of justice," the congressman said.
Nadler added that the House Judiciary Committee would hold hearings and consider legislation to "strengthen police-community relations."
Read his full statement:
“The justice system and Department of Justice have failed Eric Garner and his family. It is long past time for the officer who caused Eric Garner’s death to be held accountable by some measure. As I’ve said before, the footage of Eric Garner’s death is clear. The officer in the case used an illegal chokehold on Garner that was banned by the NYPD. Firing him was the right thing to do, but it should not have taken so many years for such a limited measure of justice. The House Judiciary Committee will hold hearings and consider legislation this Congress to strengthen police-community relations. We must continue to work at every level of government, within our local police departments and on the ground in our communities to ensure positive change.”
Daniel Pantaleo's attorney Stuart London said that he received a call notifying him that Pantaleo was being fired "about 13 minutes" before the NYPD police commissioner made the public announcement.
London, speaking at a press conference today, said that he passed the information onto Pantaleo.
"Obviously he is disappointed, upset," London said about Pantaleo's reaction. "But he has a lot of strength."
London said that Pantaleo will file an Article 78 in court to appeal the decision by the commissioner to terminate him.
"We're looking for him to get his job back," London said.
The Rev. Al Sharpton, president of National Action Network, vowed to push for congressional hearings and a law to prevent chokeholds.
Sharpton, speaking at a news conference alongside two of Eric Garner's children, said they will be asking the state to make the use of chokeholds illegal.
"We will be going to the state of New York to ask that they begin to make it illegal by law the use of the chokehold," he said. This was a New York policy, New York City Department Policy. It ought to be a state law and a federal law that chokeholds by police is punishable with a crime, not just termination."
Sharpton vowed to call on Congressman Jerry Nadler, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, to investigate Garner's death.
"We continue to call for Congressman Nadler who committed congressional hearings to move forward," he said. "We need to investigate why the federal government around the country, including Eric Garner, decide not to bring cases in a federal court and let a jury decide whether or not Garner had 10,000 cigarettes. Let a jury decide whether his civil rights was (sic) violated and whether or not the police operated in a manner that robbed him of his civil rights. And the same should be of other cases around the country which is why the Judiciary Committee ought to have those public hearings starting in New York.”
Earlier in the news conference, Garner's daughter Emerald Garner vowed to push for "the Eric Garner law," which she said will ban chokeholds and "ban officers being protected by a shield and not held account for their actions."
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, who is also running for president, said "justice has been done" following the firing of police officer Daniel Pantaleo, who is accused of fatally choking Eric Garner in 2014.
"Today, we have finally seen justice done. Today, we saw the NYPD's own disciplinary process act fairly and impartially," de Blasio said.
He said the long process has put the Garner family through "so much agony for so long."
"I hope today brings some small measure of closure," de Blasio said. "Today will not bring Eric Garner back, but I hope it brings some small measure of closure and peace to the Garner family."
Eric Garner's daughter Emerald Garner vowed to continue to fight for justice following the tragic death of her father.
"I don't want another Eric Garner. I will do everything in my power to never see another Eric Garner," she told reporters.
"I don't even want to see another video of a person being choked out. Because it wasn't supposed to happen to him. It's not supposed to happen. I should not be here standing with my brother, fatherless. I should be standing here with my father. But Pantaleo took that away from me on 7/17. Yes, he's fired. But the fight is not over. We will continue to fight."
She also thanked NYPD Commissioner James O'Neill for his decision to fire Pantaleo.
"I thank you for doing the right thing," Emerald Garner said.
A detailed report from NYPD Deputy Commissioner of Trials Rosemarie Maldonado on the death of Eric Garner found officer Daniel Pantaleo had committed "grave misconduct."
The report states "the use of the chokehold fell so far short of the objective reasonableness that this tribunal found it to be reckless — a gross deviation from the standard of conduct established for a New York City police officer. Moreover, respondent’s glaring dereliction of responsibility precipitated a tragic outcome.”
The report concluded that “there is only one appropriate penalty for the grave misconduct that yielded and equally grave result, respondent can no longer remain a New York City police officer.”
CNN obtained the report, which was issued earlier this month after the conclusion of an NYPD trial into Pantaleo's conduct. The report was obtained from a source familiar with the matter.
What we know about Maldonado decision: Pantaleo faced two charges during his departmental trial: use of a chokehold and restricting breathing. Maldonado mulled over the circumstances surrounding both charges for her ruling since the final day of deliberation in June.
As part of her ruling, Maldonado had to review the footage of Garner’s arrest in very fine detail. She focused in on the moments after Pantaleo takes down Garner. Pantaleo is seen on Garner’s back with one arm wrapped around his neck when he brings his other arm around and clasps them together, locking in the hold.
Pantaleo was trained not to use chokeholds while he was a rookie in 2006, according to the source. And Maldonado felt Pantaleo’s use of the move was both reckless and she states, “respondents egregious misconduct led to the deadly consequences his training anticipated and which the prohibition was designed to prevent.”
During the departmental trial, lawyers for Pantaleo argued that Garner’s neck was in the crook of his elbow and there was no pressure on his windpipe but rather on the sides of his neck, constituting a sleeper hold. Despite this, Maldonado ruled that while he was on top of Garner, he could have used a different tactic, not one that was banned by the NYPD.
But despite Maldonado’s ruling on Pantaleo’s use of the chokehold, she found that he was not guilty of restricting Garner’s breathing. The second charge had more to do with intent, meaning there needed to be clear intent to prevent someone from breathing in order for the charge to stick. But since Pantaleo made other attempts to subdue Garner with other NYPD approved tactics before the chokehold was applied, such as an arm bar, Maldonado ruled that it wasn’t Pantaleo’s goal to stop Garner from breathing.
NYPD Commissioner James O’Neill used this report as a guideline when making his decision to fire officer Pantaleo, which he announced at a news conference this afternoon.
The Police Benevolent Association of the City of New York, a police union that represents nearly 50,000 active and retired NYC police officers, has put out a statement on the dismissal of Daniel Pantaleo.
PBA President Patrick Lynch said that Commissioner James O’Neill has “chosen politics and his own self-interest over the police officers he claims to lead.”
"The damage is already done. The NYPD will remain rudderless and frozen, and Commissioner O’Neill will never be able to bring it back. Now it is time for every PO in this city to make their own choice,” Lynch said in the statement.
Here is the union's full statement: