The former New York City cop who choked Eric Garner to death despite him saying “I can’t breathe” 11 times has sued NYPD to get his job back.
Daniel Pantaleo‘s attorney Stuart London told the New York Daily News Wednesday his client’s actions were “justified.”
Garner, an unarmed Black man, was accused of selling single cigarettes outside a store on Staten Island when Pantaleo used deadly force while trying to arrest him on July 17, 2014.
New York City Police Commissioner James O’Neill, who is also named in Pantaleo’s suit in Manhattan Civil Court, announced the decision to fire the ex-cop Aug. 19.
Garner’s mom and sister said in August they planned to keep fighting.
O’Neill’s announcement followed the recommendation of NYPD’s Deputy Commissioner of Trials Rosemarie Maldonado, who called Pantaleo’s actions “egregious misconduct.”
She said in a 46-page written opinion The New York Times obtained in August 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.”
London said then he would file an appeal, according to the New York Daily News.
“Judge Maldonado was incorrect when she indicated that he committed the crime of assault in the third degree,” London told the newspaper. “Both of his initial moves were justified, putting him up against the window were justified, and once he was cuffed he was put on his side.”
He went on to say the arrest was a “fluid situation” that Maldonado used “tortured logic” in coming to a decision about.
London also said Pantaleo, a 13-year veteran who earned more than $85,000 a year, was disappointed and longed to pin on his badge.
“I think he was disappointed he was not allowed to get his pension,” London told the New York Daily News. “He wasn’t given his pension or even a prorated portion of the pension.
“He doesn’t feel he was fairly treated by the job, by the mayor or by the police department.”
Rev. Al Sharpton released a statement on Twitter Wednesday saying Pantaleo’s effort to seek reinstatement is “disrespectful” to the police commissioner and Garner’s family.
“He has shown no contrition or acknowledgement of his violent actions that ultimately killed Eric Garner,” Sharpton said.
The civil rights advocate promised that if the lawsuit goes to trial, he will fill the courtroom with clergy members, activists and civil rights leaders in “neck braces to show solidarity in our fight for justice.”
“And if Pantaleo wins this lawsuit, he will continue to pose a threat to all Black and Brown people in New York City,” Sharpton said.