Eric Garner chokehold cop, Daniel Pantaleo, is fired

Cheryl Sanders
August 19, 2019

O'Neill said it was clear that Pantaleo "can no longer effectively serve as a New York City police officer".

The conversation surrounding Garner's death entered the national spotlight, with "I can't breathe" becoming a rallying cry for activists and protesters fighting against police brutality.

A grand jury also declined to indict Pantaleo on criminal charges in 2014.

Pantaleo had been suspended since August 2, after a judge recommended his termination.

Officer Daniel Pantaleo had been on desk duty since he was seen in widely viewed cellphone videos using a banned chokehold on Garner on a Staten Island sidewalk during an attempted arrest.


Rosemarie Maldonado, a deputy police commissioner who oversaw disciplinary hearings involving the fatal 2014 incident, recommended last month that Pantaleo be let go.

Daniel Pantaleo, the New York City police officer accused in the 2014 death of Eric Garner that sparked nationwide outrage, has been fired, Commissioner James O'Neill announced Monday afternoon.

"None of us can take back our decisions", he said, adding: "Especially when they lead to the death of another human being". But union officials and the officer's lawyers describe it as a "seatbelt hold" - a takedown move taught to rookies at the police academy - and blame Garner's death on his poor health.

Pantaleo's lawyer has insisted the officer used a reasonable amount of force and didn't mean to hurt Garner.

'No, I did not, ' Pantaleo said when asked by investigators if he'd applied a chokehold.


In a cell phone video taken by a bystander, Garner could be heard saying "I can't breathe" 11 times before falling unconscious.

O'Neill said at multiple points during the news conference that it was regrettable that Garner resisted arrested, and he said that for several moments Pantaleo acted appropriately in a "tense and rapidly evolving situation". Federal authorities, however, kept a civil rights investigation open for five years before announcing last month they wouldn't bring charges.

While the chokehold itself did not kill Eric Garner, Maldonado wrote that the "chokehold was a significant factor in triggering the asthma attack that contributed to Mr. Garner's death".

And later in 2014, a man angry about the Garner and Brown cases shot two New York City police officers to death in their cruiser in retribution.

It also came after Mayor Bill de Blasio proclaimed that Garner's family was "going to get justice ... in the next 30 days" during a Democratic presidential primary debate on July 31.


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