In a nutshell, the decision is based on the finding that while Eric Garner was wrong to resist arrest, Pantaleo was wrong to use a prohibitive chokehold on Garner.
The New York police officer accused of fatally choking Eric Garner in 2014 has been dismissed and will not receive his NYPD pension, Commissioner James O’Neill said Monday.
“It is clear that Daniel Pantaleo can no longer effectively serve as a New York police officer,” he said.
Officer Daniel Pantaleo was found guilty in a disciplinary trial earlier this month of using a chokehold on Garner, the New York man whose final words were, “I can’t breathe”.
The departmental administrative judge officially recommended Pantaleo be fired. O’Neill, an officer for 34 years, cited that recommendation repeatedly in his announcement on Monday, but he said it was still not an “easy decision.”
O’Neill said contributions Pantaleo has already made toward his pension will be returned to him.
The decision comes more than five years after police tried to arrest the 43-year-old who was allegedly selling loose cigarettes illegally on Staten Island. In video of the arrest, Pantaleo can be seen wrapping one arm around Garner’s shoulder and the other around his neck before jerking him back and pulling him to the ground.
The departmental disciplinary trial focused on whether Pantaleo used a department-banned chokehold in the arrest.
The city medical examiner’s office ruled Garner’s death a homicide in the days after his death, and the medical examiner testified that Pantaleo’s alleged chokehold caused an asthma attack and was “part of the lethal cascade of events.”
Pantaleo denied that he used the maneuver, but Deputy Commissioner of Trials Rosemarie Maldonado ruled that a chokehold triggered a series of events that culminated with Garner’s death, according to the report, which CNN obtained from a source familiar with the matter.
“Here, (Pantaleo’s) use of a 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 wrote. “Moreover, (Pantaleo’s) glaring dereliction of responsibility precipitated a tragic outcome.”
Despite the disciplinary trial, Pantaleo has avoided criminal charges in the death. A grand jury in New York declined to indict the officer in 2014, and the city of New York settled with Garner’s estate for $5.9 million in 2015. The Justice Department declined to bring federal civil rights charges last month.