NYPD Officer Daniel Pantaleo gained international notoriety for his role in the death of Eric Garner. Pantaleo is seen in a widely viewed video placing Garner in a chokehold as he gasps “I can’t breathe” multiple times and is later declared dead. Garner’s death started an international outcry. Soon the #ICantBreath spread along with #EricGarner as the Black Lives Matter movement grew in popularity. Pantaleo was not indicted on any state charges for his actions for the unwarranted stop and frisk over loose cigarettes that led to Garner’s death. Now it is being revealed that Pantaleo was the subject of another complaint regarding his stop-and-frisk tactics two years before the Garner incident.
In June 2012, Pantaleo performed a stop and frisk on a suspect that later turned out to be unwarranted. The case was under investigation for two and a half years before a decision was reached in March 2015. In the decision the NYPD found that Pantaleo abused “his authority in that he frisked a person known to the department without sufficient legal authority.” His actions resulted in losing two vacation days over the bogus traffic stop. However, the information about this incident was not available for the media to review until March 2016. Initially, there was no answer as to why there was a delay in posting to the NYPD personnel orders, which can take several weeks to update. But now an NYPD spokesperson has stated that the delay was unintentional and was caused by a paperwork backlog.
Although Pantaleo was not indicted by Staten Island grand jury for Garner’s death, he still faces federal charges over the death and possible civil rights violations. It is unknown if the information about this prior stop-and-frisk complaint was available to the Staten Island grand jury or whether it was taken into account in its decision to not indict Pantaleo.