It’s been five years since Eric Garner yelled “I can’t breathe” 11 times before dying on a concrete sidewalk outside of a Staten Island beauty supply store. Now, the officer involved will learn whether or not he will remain on the force.
According to reports, Daniel Pantaleo, now 33-years-old, faces charges of reckless use of a chokehold and intentional restriction of breathing. Stuart London, the police union lawyer representing Pantaleo, says the move administered on Garner wasn’t a chokehold, but a technique taught at the police academy known as the seatbelt. London will also argue that the seatbelt maneuver isn’t what caused Garner’s death, but instead, his own poor health.
“Mr. Garner died from being morbidly obese,” London said. “He was a ticking time bomb and set these facts in motion by resisting arrest.”
The medical examiner ruled Garner’s death a homicide, something London will try to assert as false.
“Those who have been able to not come to a rushed judgment, but have looked at the video in explicit detail, see Pantaleo’s intent and objective was to take him down pursuant to how he was taught by NYPD, control him when they got on the ground, and then have him cuffed,” Mr. London said in an interview with the New York Times. “There was never any intent for him to exert pressure on his neck and choke him out the way the case has been portrayed.”
Following Garner’s death, the city paid a $5.9 million settlement to Garner’s surviving family member. However, Pantaleo still hadn’t gone to trial. Greater urgency was taken when Garner’s daughter, Erica, died in 2017. The viral video of Garner being taken down by police officers was filmed by his friend, Ramsey Orta. He will be one of the 20 witnesses called during the trial.
According to the New York Times, will have to answer two questions: Was the technique used on Garner a chokehold? and if so was Pantaleo justified in using the method?
“It was at least a dozen more who just did nothing, or either they pounced on him, they choked him, they filed false reports,” Mr. Garner’s mother, Gwen Carr, said. “It’s about all of those officers who committed an injustice that day and they all need to stand accountable.”