By Gina Martinez
The Civilian Complaint Review Board has reportedly found that Daniel Pantaleo, the NYPD officer who put Eric Garner in a fatal chokehold in 2014, should face department charges.
According to Rolling Stone magazine, the board, which investigates police misconduct, ruled that Pantaleo did in fact use a chokehold and restricted Garner’s breathing. The board recommended the strongest departmental charges against Pantaleo that could lead to either suspension or termination, the publication said.
Pantaleo has been on desk duty since the July 2014 incident. A viral cellphone video showed Eric Garner repeatedly say “I can’t breathe” as he was choked by Pataleo. The father of six was stopped by officers for selling loosies in front of a Staten Island grocery store. The medical examiner determined Garner died from the chokehold. A grand jury in Staten Island declined to bring charges against Pataleo in December 2014, but the city was ordered to pay $5.9 million to his family. He is still the target of a civil rights investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice.
The CCRB had no comment about the case, but this summer an employee was forced to resign after releasing Pantaleo’s disciplinary records that reportedly revealed that four out of 14 misconduct allegations against the officer were substantiated.
Earlier this month the NYPD was pressured into turning over footage of an arrest after City Councilman Rory Lancman (D-Hillcrest) threatened to subpoena the department if it refused to release records in a case that reportedly involved the banned chokehold technique.
Police Commissioner James O’Neill overturned a guilty verdict against an officer in a department misconduct trial but did not reveal what the cop was accused of doing. It was later reported by the Daily News that the officer was charged with using the banned chokehold technique. Even though the trial was open to the public, the city withheld footage of the incident.
O’Neill reviewed the video and all evidence involved in the case and rejected the CCRB’s conclusion that the officer’s actions constituted a chokehold and he directed that the officer be found not guilty. NYPD said in the rare occurrences where the police commissioner reverses a trial court decision, the department will ask the officers if they would agree to waive their 50-a protection status for any video presented in their case. The video was then released.
Lancman is a sponsor of pending legislation which would make a police officer’s use of a chokehold a misdemeanor. Lancman said he was shocked that chokeholds remain in use three decades after they were banned by the NYPD and after the death of Garner.
Reach Gina Martinez by e-mail at gmart