Daniel Pantaleo, the plainclothes member of the New York Police Department who killed Eric Garner with an outlawed chokehold in 2014, has been terminated from the department after five years, NBC News reports.
NYPD Commissioner James O’Neill has upheld the decision handed down by an administrative judge that Pantaleo be terminated for choking the life out of Garner for selling loose cigarettes on the streets of Staten Island, New York, in July 2014. The violent episode incited protests and demonstrations nationwide and further sparked the #BlackLivesMatter movement.
The coroner also had ruled Garner’s death a homicide, but Pantaleo has escaped state and federal prosecution despite the fact that the NYPD has long outlawed the chokehold as a detainment technique. Attorney General William Barr, head of the U.S. Department of Justice, refused to prosecute Pantaleo.
Garner’s wife, Esaw Garner, was able to procure a nearly $6 million judgment against the city after his death.
Pantaleo, who has been with the NYPD since 2006, had been relegated to desk duty since the incident. And he was suspended from duty when the judge recommended his firing and now Panatelo’s 13-year career with the force is over.
Despite the termination, O’Neill continues to defend Pantaleo’s actions but added that he wished Pantaleo had released his grip around Garner’s throat once Garner was taken to the ground.
“Had I been in officer Pantaleo’s situation I may have [made] similar mistakes,” O’Neill said. “I would have wished I had released my grip before it became a chokehold.”
O’Neill also placed some of the blame on Garner himself for “resisting” arrest.
“Every time I watch that video I say to myself … ‘to Mr. Garner, don’t do it. Comply. Officer Pantaleo, don’t do it,’ ” the commissioner said.
Garner’s survivors remain angry that Pantaleo will not face any jail time for causing their loved one’s death.