The New York City Police officer who put Eric Garner in a deadly chokehold has been fired, New York City Police Commissioner James O’Neill announced Monday during a press conference.
“I’ve been a cop a long time, and if I was still a cop, I’d probably be mad at me. I would,” O’Neill said. ” Not looking out for us, but I am. It’s my responsibility as police commissioner to look out for the city and certainly to look out for the New York City Police officers.”
O’Neill called both Garner’s death and the termination of officer Daniel Pantaleo tragedies in a speech that blamed Garner and praised Pantaleo.
“It is unlikely that Mr. Garner thought he was in such poor health that a brief struggle with the police would cause his death,” O’Neill said. “He should have decided against resisting arrest, but a man with a family lost his life, and that is an irreversible tragedy.
“And a hardworking police officer with a family– a man who took this job to do good, to make a difference in his home community — has now lost his chosen career,” O’Neill added. “And that is a different kind of tragedy.”
O’Neill then called Garner’s death an “unintended consequence” that “must have a consequence of its own.”
The announcement followed the recommendation of NYPD’s Deputy Commissioner of Trials Rosemarie Maldonado, who called Pantaleo’s actions “egregious misconduct.”
She said Sunday in a 46-page written opinion The New York Times obtained that Officer Pantaleo’s chokehold “fell so far short of objective reasonableness that this tribunal found it to be reckless — a gross deviation from the standard of conduct established for a New York City police officer.”
Maldonado also said Pantaleo was “untruthful” in interviews with investigators.
“Accordingly, this tribunal finds that there is only one appropriate penalty for the grave misconduct that yielded an equally grave result — Respondent can no longer remain a New York City police officer,” Maldonado said.
Garner, an unarmed Black man, was accused of selling single cigarettes outside a store on Staten Island when Pantaleo tried to arrest him by placing Garner in the chokehold July 17, 2014.
He died after the encounter when he was taken to Richmond University Medical Center.
Five years after his death, the New York Police department suspended Pantaleo when Maldonado recommended the officer’s termination August 2.
In the opinion, which apparently was leaked to The New York Times, Maldonado cited a trial commissioner’s determination that although “it was never proved that the chokehold was the sole cause of death, the neck compression began the downward spiral that ended with [the individual’s] death,” termination was warranted.
“I have come to the same conclusion on the instant facts,” Maldonado wrote.
She also said that Garner was “non-compliant and argumentative” and that the police patrol guide permits officers to use “reasonable force” when necessary.
“What the Patrol Guide did not allow, however, even when this individual was resisting arrest, was the use of a prohibited chokehold,” Maldonado said.
She cited medical evidence and expert testimony in her opinion that Pantaleo’s “recklessness caused internal hemorrhaging in Mr. Garner’s neck and was a significant factor in triggering the acute asthma attack which contributed to his death.”
Pantaleo’s “egregious misconduct led to the deadly consequences his training anticipated and which the prohibition was designed to prevent,” Maldonado wrote.