In the continuing fallout from the death of Staten Island resident Eric Garner while in the custody of New York police, the four emergency workers who responded to the scene are now suspended without pay by Richmond University Medical Center. Meanwhile, media reports indicate the police officer who used the chokehold on Garner has been sued twice in the last year for civil rights violations.
The website SILive.com revealed that Daniel Pantaleo, who has been stripped of his gun and badge and reassigned since Garner’s death, had a suit filed against him on June 21, 2013, by Darren Collins and Tommy Rice, both of Staten Island. The men allege that Pantaleo and several other officers unlawfully stopped their car, searched them, handcuffed them and “subjected [them] to a humiliating and unlawful strip search in public view … [the officers] forced [Collins and Rice] to pull their pants and underwear down, squat and cough,” according to court documents.
Jason Leventhall, the attorney for Collins and Rice, told SiLive.com that the parties settled out of court for $30,000.
In the other suit filed in February, which is still pending, Rylawn Walker, also of Staten Island, alleged that Pantaleo “approached, accosted, falsely arrested and falsely imprisoned” him, despite the fact that Walker “had not committed any crime or offense and did not act in a suspicious manner.” Walker also alleged that “[p]articularly in Richmond County,” where Staten Island is located, [there] has been a pattern of abuse and false arrest by officers of the NYPD as evidenced by numerous lawsuits by persons of color.”
The city paid out $152 million to plaintiffs in 2012 for claims involving the New York Police Department, according to SILive.com.
A video that has surfaced, shot by Taisha Allen, shows Garner on the ground for several minutes while four emergency workers employed by Richmond University Medical Center hover around him without doing anything.
Several minutes into the video, a female technician finally takes Garner’s pulse and tells him they’re going to get help.
“The ambulance was right down the block, but the police said ‘not yet,'” Giordio Dano, a registered nurse who witnessed the incident, told SILive.com.
Dano says he can’t believe what he saw.
“I would have flipped him over, checked his pulse and performed CPR, and get the ambulance here right away,” he said.
“He was on the ground for a good 10 minutes, no response whatsoever. When they put him in the gurney and put him to the side, EMS was stopped right there because they were trying to work on him,” said Allen.
Witness Ramsey Orta said they pleaded with emergency medical services workers to do more than check Garner’s vital signs.
“We even screamed at them and told them why are they concerned with putting him in the ambulance when they can do CPR right then and there,” Orta said.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio told reporters Monday that he thought a chokehold had been used on Garner.
“As an individual who’s not expert in law enforcement, it looked like a chokehold to me. But I also emphasize you have a full investigation because all sides need to be heard and all evidence has to be looked at,” de Blasio told reporters trailing him on vacation in Italy.
Though Garner was an asthmatic, authorities said he died of a heart attack. Autopsy results have yet to be released.
“There’s an internal process, and I respect that process,” de Blasio said. “The fact is that Commissioner (Bill) Bratton acted, having looked at the facts. It’s quite clear the chokehold has been prohibited for decades, but I leave the specific actions within the police department to Commissioner Bratton. I have absolute faith in his judgment. I think the actions that have been taken show that there is a serious commitment to a full investigation.”
A piece in New York magazine revealed the offensive anonymous comments that are being posted by NYPD officers on websites and message boards that are restricted to police officers. While calling Garner names like “fat bastard” and “fat fck perp,” the cops blame Garner for his death because they claim he didn’t comply with the officers, and they say the police officers did nothing wrong.
“I guess it’s the best thing for his tribe,” a user named DisGraziato posted on TheeRant message board. “He probably never worked a legit job. They city will pay off the family and they will be in N***** heaven for the rest of their lives!!”