Eric Garner: NY officer in 'I can't breathe' death fired

BBC

20th August, 2019 02:31:55 printer


Eric Garner: NY officer in 'I can't breathe' death fired

The New York City police officer involved in the high-profile 2014 chokehold death of an African-American man has been fired.

Daniel Pantaleo was sacked over the death of Eric Garner, whose dying words "I can't breathe" became a rallying cry for protests against police brutality.

A state grand jury declined to press criminal charges.

After a lengthy civil rights investigation, federal prosecutors said last month they would bring no charges.

The decision, based on the recommendation of a police department disciplinary judge, was announced by New York Police Commissioner James O'Neill on Monday. Mr Pantaleo was suspended while awaiting the commissioner's decision.

In explaining his decision, Mr O'Neill said mobile phone video of Garner's death clearly shows the officer used a chokehold, which is banned by the New York Police Department (NYPD).

"It is clear that Daniel Pantaleo can no longer serve as a New York City police officer," Mr O'Neill said.

"Had I been in Officer Pantaleo's situation, I may have made similar mistakes," he continued.

"None of us can take back our decisions," he said, adding: "Especially when they lead to the death of another human being."

Mr Pantaleo's lawyer said he would appeal against the commissioner's decision to fire him.

What happened to Eric Garner?

Garner was arrested on suspicion of illegally selling loose cigarettes on 17 July, 2014.

In video of the arrest recorded by a bystander, Mr Pantaleo, who is white, is seen with his arm wrapped around Garner's neck as they struggled on a street in the city's Staten Island borough.

The officer's lawyer contends his client used approved tactics to arrest Garner, but earlier this month NYPD Deputy Commissioner of Trials Rosemarie Maldonado ruled that Mr Pantaleo had used a chokehold - which is banned by the police department.

As the officers continued to restrain Garner, the asthmatic was heard repeatedly saying: "I can't breathe."

Mr O'Neill said Mr Pantaleo's decision to maintain the chokehold on the ground is what led to his firing.

The 43-year-old father of six, who weighed more than 350lb (160kg), appeared to lose consciousness and later was pronounced dead in hospital.

A city medical examiner ruled the chokehold contributed to Garner's death.

In 2015, the city of New York reached a settlement with the family for $5.9m (£4.8m) after they brought a wrongful-death lawsuit arguing that Garner was not given sufficient medical aid by emergency officials.


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