New York, Aug 20 (IANS) The New York Police Department (NYPD) has announced the firing of an officer for his role in the 2014 death of an African-American man, an incident that led to massive protests against police brutality.
“It’s an extremely difficult decision,” Efe news quoted NYPD Commissioner James O’Neill as saying in a press conference on Monday. “If I was still a cop, I’d probably be mad at me.”
“I can tell you that had I been in Officer Daniel Pantaleo’s situation, I may have made similar mistakes. But none of us can take back our decisions, particularly when they result in the death of another human being,” O’Neill said.
The commissioner said that he was persuaded by the findings of an NYPD internal review and that Pantaleo “can no longer effectively serve as a New York City police officer”.
Deputy Commissioner Rosemarie Maldonado, who acted as judge in the NYPD disciplinary trial, recommended that Pantaleo should be dismissed for using a chokehold to restrain Eric Garner, the African-American man, and subsequently lying to investigators about his conduct during the confrontation.
Pantaleo, restricted to office duty since the July 17, 2014, incident, was suspended following the departmental trial.
Garner, 43, who was overweight and asthmatic, died after Pantaleo placed an arm against his neck while trying to arrest him for allegedly selling untaxed cigarettes.
The episode, filmed by a passerby, sparked protests and anger in the city, which has witnessed a succession of cases where people, usually minorities, suffered death or injury at the hands of the NYPD.
Garner can be heard on the recording telling Pantaleo, who is white, and the other officers: “I can’t breathe,” and that phrase became a theme of demonstrations against police violence across the US.
Garner’s family, who four years ago accepted a $5.9 million settlement from the city, have long called for Pantaleo’s firing and welcomed Monday’s announcement by O’Neill.
New York Mayor Bill de Blasio also expressed satisfaction over Pantaleo’s dismissal.