Police Commissioner, however, has the final say
An administrative law judge has recommended that the New York City Police Department fire patrolman Daniel Pantaleo for the 2014 choking death of Eric Garner, which sparked demonstrations across the country, protesting the deadly treatment of black men by police.
While in Pantaleo’s death grip, Garner begged for his life 11 times within seven seconds, saying he couldn’t breathe before dying.
Pantaleo, who had been assigned to desk duty, was suspended immediately once Judge Rosemarie Maldonado’s ruling became known.
New York City’s Police Commissioner James P. O’Neil will make the final determination if Pantaleo should be fired. It is not known when he will issue a thumbs up or thumbs down. Pantaleo’s lawyer vowed he would appeal to state court should the NYPD fire Pantaleo.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio hailed the Judge Maldonado’s decision. De Blasio, who is seeking the Democratic nomination for president, had his opening statement interrupted during the candidates’ debate in Detroit on Wednesday by demonstrators who chanted “Fire Pantaleo.”
Garner’s mother, Gwen Carr, said Judge Maldonado’s decision brought some relief.
Pantaleo murdered Garner, employing a chokehold that had been ruled illegal by the NYPD. He was being arrested for selling loose or untaxed cigarettes. New York City, however, has ruled the chokehold is legal. Garner’s death occurred on July 17, 2014.
A Staten Island grand jury didn’t indict Pantaleo for murder, although the medical examiner ruled Garner’s death a homicide. Recently, the U.S. Department of Justice also refused to indict Pantaleo over the objections of its Civil Rights Division.
Garner’s murder has become a symbol of violent police treatment of black men in which many, if not all, were killed although they were unarmed. Garner was unarmed. In every case, police were assigned to desk duty until an investigation cleared them of using excessive force. They returned to work after collecting thousands of dollars in back salaries.
It is not clear what will happen to Sgt. Kizzy Adonis, Pantaleo’s supervisor. The police department stripped Adonis, who is African American, of her badge and gun and assigned her to desk duty.