NYPD fires officer in Eric Garner chokehold death
NEW YORK (FOX 5 NY) - NYPD Officer Daniel Pantaelo, who was accused of using a chokehold in the viral video death of Eric Garner in 2014, was fired by NYPD Commissioner James O'Neil.
O'Neill made his announcement Monday after five years of investigations and protests.
"What I want residents of New York City to understand is that there is accountability in the New York City Police Department," said O'Neill, speaking from police headquarters in lower Manhattan.
A state grand jury declined to indict Pantaleo in 2014. Federal authorities, however, kept a civil rights investigation open for five years before announcing last month they would not bring charges.
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It was up to O'Neill to seal Pantaelo's fate after an NYPD administrative judge recommended firing the officer earlier this month.
Pantaleo's lawyer had insisted the officer used a reasonable amount of force and did not mean to hurt Garner.
Chokeholds are an illegal maneuver within the NYPD.
In the video, Garner was seen resisting arrest by several officers including Pantaleo for allegedly selling loose cigarettes on Staten Island.
"As Mr. Garner balanced himself on the sidewalk on his hands and knees, Deputy Commissioner of trials Rosemarie Maldonado found that Officer Pantaleo consciously disregarded the substantial and unjustifiable risk of maneuver explicitly prohibited by the department," said O'Neill.
Pantaleo was suspended after the judge's recommendation as is the practice when the recommendation is termination.
"None of us can take back our decisions," said O'Neill, "especially when they lead to the death of another human being."
Garner said 'I can't breathe' before dying during the confrontation with police..
The phrase became the rallying cry of the 'black lives matter' movement.
The Rev. Al Sharpton addressed the media alongside members of Garner's family following the announcement.
"It was clear in the only proceedings that happened that Eric Garner was the victim of a policeman that broke policy. All else about Eric Garner is speculation and reckless," said Sharpton.
NY Police Benevolent Association also held a news conference.
"There's nothing to celebrate," said Sharpton. "Pantaleo goes home a terminated man, this family has to go to a funeral."