NYPD Commissioner James O’Neil fired former NYPD Officer Daniel Pantaleo for the 2014 police death of Eric Garner.
During a press conference held at NYPD headquarters on Monday, O’Neil said that Pantaleo violated NYPD policy when Garner was killed.
“It was an extremely difficult decision…it’s not something that I could make over a few hours,” O’Neill said. “I’ve been having to think about this since the day I was sworn in as police commissioner. “Make no mistake about it, this is a tragedy for the Garner family – I fully understand that. Mr. Garner was somebody’s son, somebody’s dad.”
It was five years ago that Garner was killed by NYPD officers during an arrest for allegedly selling untaxed cigarettes in Staten Island. Pantaleo put him in what appeared to be a prohibited chokehold. The incident was caught on cellphone video, on which Garner can be heard saying, “I can’t breathe” 11 times. The city medical examiner at the time ruled Garner’s death a homicide.
Last month, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York Richard P. Donoghue announced that Pantaleo and the officers involved in Garner’s death would not face any federal charges.
“Today, Daniel Pantaleo lost his job but Eric Garner lost his life,” Rev. Al Sharpton said during a press conference.
New York City Civilian Complaint Review Board Chair Fred Davie said in a statement that after five years, Garner’s family has closure.
“Make no mistake: This process took entirely too long. And the tragic reality is that neither a verdict from a judge nor a decision by a police commissioner can reverse what happened on July 17, 2014.” Davie said.
In response to the decision, Police Benevolent Association President Pat Lynch said in a statement that O’Neil was siding with those who are anti-police.
“With this decision, Commissioner O’Neill has opened the door for politicians to dictate the outcome of every single NYPD disciplinary proceeding, without any regard for the facts of the case or police officers’ due process rights,” Lynch said.