The NYPD has temporarily suspended the officer who killed Eric Garner after an administrative judge recommended that he be fired from the department. Daniel Pantaleo had been on desk duty with a salary that peaked above six figures, since Garner’s death five years ago.
“This has been a long battle, five years too long, and finally someone has said there is information this cop did something wrong,” Garner’s daughter, Emerald, said. “It’s been way too long to say he did something wrong.”
Pantaleo is suspended without pay for 30 days, a standard practice in a disciplinary case. His lawyer plans to appeal the decision.
Garner’s mother, Gwenn Carr, urged the NYPD to finally “take action” in the case. “It’s past time for [New York] Mayor Bill de Blasio and the NYPD to end their obstruction, stop spreading misleading talking points and finally take action for my son,” Carr said.
Police commissioner Phillip Walzak will make a final decision on Pantaleo’s future with the NYPD later this month. “The Police Commissioner is aware of media reports and public statements today regarding the Pantaleo trial. Consistent with the NYPD disciplinary process, the Police Commissioner has not been provided the draft report. It has been shared with the CCRB and the defense, for a standard period of final comment from each,” the NYPD said in a statement. “The Deputy Commissioner of Trials will then deliver the completed report, with those comments, to the Police Commissioner for final disposition – to be determined this month. Officer Pantaleo has been suspended, effective today, as is the longstanding practice in these matters when the recommendation is termination.
“All of New York City understandably seeks closure to this difficult chapter in our City’s history. Premature statements or judgments before the process is complete however cannot and will not be made,” the statement continues. “In order to protect the integrity of the trial proceedings and conclusion, the NYPD will not comment further until the Police Commissioner makes the final determination.”
Earlier in the week, activists interrupted the Democratic Debate to call for Pantaleo’s firing, simultaneously sending a message to DeBlasio, who is currently running for president and was participating in the debate. “Today for the first time in these long five years, the system of justice is working,” DeBlasio said in response to Pantaleo’s suspension.
On Friday, activists gathered out front of NYPD headquarters to again demand that Pantaleo be fired.
Panatelao has denied using excessive force on Garner. Although he was found to have used a chokehold that was banned by the NYPD decades ago, a jury ultimately declined to indict him on charges related to Garner’s death. In video of the incident, Garner can be heard pleading with police about not being able to breathe as Pantaleo continues to choke him. The 43-year-old father of five was later pronounced dead at a local hospital.
According to NBC New York, the judge found Pantaleo guilty of “reckless assault,” but not “intentional strangulation.”