An NYPD officer will face a departmental disciplinary trial in May 2019 for alleged use of excessive force that led to the death of an unarmed black man.
Officer Daniel Pantaleo was accused of recklessly and intentionally placing 43-year-old Eric Garner in a fatal chokehold during a 2014 confrontation over untaxed cigarette sales. Garner could be heard shouting “I can’t breathe,” on amateur video footage that showed Pantaleo restraining him with the chokehold on a Staten Island sidewalk. The phrase later became a slogan for a national movement against police brutality.
Pantaleo, 33, was assigned to desk duty after the incident. If convicted, his punishment could range from losing vacation days to being fired. The first hearing in Pantaleo’s disciplinary case occurred at NYPD headquarters on December 6, 2018. The Civilian Complaint Review Board is the independent police watchdog agency overseeing the proceedings.
Garner died at a hospital after having a heart attack on the way there. The coroner said Garner’s death was a homicide triggered partially by the neck compression resulting from the chokehold.
Pantaleo’s legal counsel denied claims that the officer’s use of the chokehold was a violation of NYPD policy. He said it was a move taught by the department. In addition, the officer’s union argued that the autopsy indicated Pantaleo had exerted “the least amount of force necessary.”