NY officer at centre of Eric Garner's death fired

Daniel Pantaleo

The president of the Police Benevolent Association (PBA) in New York City reacted on Monday to the firing of Daniel Pantaleo by accusing Police Commissioner James O'Neill of "cringing in fear" of "anti-police extremists".

"Judge Maldonado ruled that Daniel Pantaleo used the prohibited chokehold that caused Eric Garner's death and Daniel Pantaleo must be terminated", said Fred Davie, chairman of the Civilian Complaint Review Board, at their monthly meeting on August 14.

"In carrying out the court's verdict in this case I take no pleasure", O'Neill said. "Five years ago, my son said, "I can't breathe" 11 times".

Former police officer Daniel Pantaleo used a chokehold to kill Eric Garner as police attempted to arrest him on suspicion of selling loose, untaxed cigarettes on a sidewalk.

Mr. Pantaleo drew a suspension from the police force but a grand jury decided not to indict him on charges.

A NY state grand jury decided in December 2014 that there was insufficient evidence to support homicide charges against Pantaleo, amid claims that Garner suffered from a heart condition and asthma that could have caused his death.

But in the end, O'Neill said, he could not overlook that Pantaleo applied the chokehold despite having received sufficient police training that such a hold was barred, resulting in what he called "an irreversible tragedy".

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Pantaleo was suspended pending the decision by O'Neill, who had the final say on the officer's future.

"[Pantaleo] has been characterized as an overly aggressive officer with a history of this sort of behavior, and nothing can be further from the truth", said London.

Patrick J. Lynch, president of the Police Benevolent Association of the City of NY, responded to the decision by accusing O'Neill of choosing "politics and his own self-interest" over the interests of NYPD officers. Garner died shortly after.

The New York City Chief Medical Examiner's office ruled that Garner's death was a homicide induced by "compression of neck (chokehold), compression of chest and prone positioning during physical restraint by police".

"It's absolutely essential that the world know that the New York City Police Department is rudderless and frozen".

In prepared remarks earlier, O'Neill said, "From the start of this process, I was determined to carry out my responsibility as police commissioner unaffected by public opinions demanding one outcome over another".

Pantaleo defined the action as a move where "you use your forearm, grasped with the other hand, and you pull back with your forearm onto the windpipe, preventing him from breathing". The U.S. Department of Justice examined the case for years, but announced in July it would not prosecute Pantaleo, saying there was not enough evidence that he breached Garner's rights. A civil suit filed by Garner's family against the department was settled out of court in 2015 for $5.9 million in damages, however the family insisted "the victory will come when we get justice".

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