Fired chokehold cop will SUE NYPD Commissioner James O’Neill

Fired chokehold cop Daniel Pantaleo will SUE NYPD Commissioner James O’Neill to get his job back as Eric Garner’s daughter brands him a murderer and says he should have been sacked five YEARS ago

  • NYPD Police Commissioner James O’Neill has fired Officer Daniel Pantaleo  
  • O’Neill had been deliberating whether to accept NYPD Deputy Commissioner of Trials Rosemarie Maldonado’s recommendation that Pantaleo be fired
  • During a Monday afternoon press conference, O’Neill said it was clear that Pantaleo ‘can no longer effectively serve as a New York City police officer’ 
  • Pantaleo previously denied putting Garner in a chokehold even though he was seen on video wrapping his arm around the man’s neck
  • The city’s medical examiner ruled Garner died as a result of an asthma attack caused by Pantaleo’s chokehold, a maneuver banned by the NYPD in 1993
  • Pantaleo’s lawyers said they plan to sue in a bid to get him reinstated to the force 
  • Following O’Neill’s announcement, Garner’s daughter thanked him for decision  
  • ‘You made a decision that should’ve been made five years ago,’ Emerald Snipes-Garner said while wearing shirt with ‘murderer’ written across photo of Pantaleo
  • She said they ‘will be going after the other officers involved’ in the incident 
  • ‘I should not be here standing with my brother, fatherless,’ Snipes-Garner added

Fired cop Daniel Pantaleo (pictured) will sue New York Police Commissioner James O’Neill in an attempt to get his job back. If his legal team wins, he would be reinstated to the NYPD and paid damages for lost wages 

Fired cop Daniel Pantaleo will sue New York Police Commissioner James O’Neill in an attempt to get his job back.

Attorney Stuart London said Monday that Pantaleo intends to appeal O’Neill’s decision and will continue fighting for his job despite being fired for placing Eric Garner in a chokehold that contributed to his 2014 death. 

Pantaleo will reportedly file the lawsuit under Article 78 of the state Civil Practice Law and Rules, London said.

The law gives people the opportunity to appeal decisions by government officials on grounds that they were ‘arbitrary and capricious’.  

London said Pantaleo had been promised a pension for his 13 years but that police brass later reneged on those assurances.

If Pantaleo’s legal team wins, he would be reinstated to the NYPD and paid damages for lost wages. 

Early Monday afternoon, O’Neill announced the firing of Pantaleo who used a deadly chokehold while arresting Garner. 

The decision has angered fellow cops, and a statement by Police Benevolent Association (PBA) president Patrick Lynch said O’Neill ‘has chosen to cringe in fear of the anti-police extremists, rather than standing up for New Yorkers who want a functioning police department.’

O’Neill’s decision came after weeks of deliberating whether or not to accept NYPD Deputy Commissioner of Trials Rosemarie Maldonado’s recommendation that Pantaleo be fired for using a chokehold on Garner that had been banned since 1993. 

The commissioner said it was clear that Pantaleo ‘can no longer effectively serve as a New York City police officer’. 

Meanwhile, Garner’s daughter, Emerald Snipes-Garner, branded Pantaleo a ‘murderer’ as she thanked O’Neill, for his decision to fire the officer during a press conference held at the National Action Network in Harlem, New York.

‘You finally made a decision that should’ve been made five years ago,’ Snipes-Garner said while wearing a shirt with the word ‘murderer’ emblazoned across a photo of Pantaleo. 

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Meanwhile, during a press conference at the National Action Network, Garner’s daughter, Emerald Snipes (pictured), thanked O’Neill for ‘doing the right thing’. She then called for more action and said her family would not stop fighting for justice 

Immediately after O’Neill’s announcement, Snipes-Garner tweeted: ‘This MURDERER IS FIRED!!!!!!’

Despite the decision, Snipes-Garner called for more action: ‘We will be trying to reopen the case and we will be going after the other officers involved.

‘I don’t want another Eric Garner. I will do everything in my power to never see another Eric Garner. I should not be here standing with my brother, fatherless. We will continue to fight,’ Snipes-Garner said.  

Snipes-Garner said she and her family would like to see an ‘Eric Garner Law’ passed that would make police chokeholds illegal. 

Immediately after O’Neill’s announcement, Snipes-Garner tweeted: ‘This MURDERER IS FIRED!!!!!!’ 

And Garner’s mother, Gwen Carr told a crowd outside One Police Plaza in New York: ‘I am not stopping this fight. You lost your job, but I lost my son.’

During O’Neill’s press conference, he said that ‘none of us can take back our decisions, especially when they lead to the death of another human being’. 

The commissioner said he knows ‘some will be angry’ but ‘it’s my responsibility as police commissioner to look out for the city and most certainly the police officers’.

When asked whether Mayor Bill de Blasio forced his hand, O’Neill, who did defend Pantaleo’s record as an officer, said the dismissal was his choice. 

‘This is the decision that the police commissioner makes,’ he said, calling Garner’s death an ‘irreversible tragedy’ that ‘must have a consequence’.

Pantaleo had previously been on desk duty since he was seen in widely viewed cellphone videos using a banned chokehold on Garner on a Staten Island sidewalk during an attempted arrest. Police believed Garner was selling loose, untaxed cigarettes.

New York Police Commissioner James O’Neill (pictured) fired Pantaleo Monday afternoon

Eric Garner (pictured) was killed on July 17, 2014. A New York medical examiner ruled his death a homicide due to an asthma attack caused by Pantaleo’s chokehold

O’Neill also described the conditions in Tompkinsville Park ahead of Garner’s death.

He spoke of consistent ‘criminal activity’ and multiple 911 calls about thefts and robberies in the area leading up to the incident. 

‘That was the situation in Tompkinsville Park when Officer Pantaleo was sent with another officer to conduct an enforcement operation,’ O’Neill said. 

O’Neill said Garner ‘refused to cooperate with the arrest’, pointing out that the ‘video also makes clear that Officer Pantaleo’s original efforts to take Mr Garner into custody were appropriate’.

‘Every time I watched the video, I said to myself, dozens of times: “Don’t do it. Don’t do it.” I said that about the decisions made by both Officer Pantaleo and Mr. Garner,’ he said.

O’Neill then also said he might have made ‘similar mistakes’ in Pantaleo’s situation. 

During a press conference at the National Action Network, Rev Al Sharpton said the decision came ‘five years too late’. 

‘Five years of misery and pain that will never end for this family,’ he added.  

‘We are relieved but we are not celebratory because Pantaleo will go home a terminated man but this family had to go to a funeral,’ Sharpton said. 

Sharpton continued: ‘I take issue with one thing that the commissioner said. I do take issue when it is said that “if I was a policeman I would be mad about this”.’

The activist was referring to the moment O’Neill said that if was still an officer of the NYPD he would be angry at any commissioner’s decision choosing to fire Pantaleo. 

‘If I were still a cop, I would be mad at me,’ O’Neill said of his own decision. 

Sharpton posed the question: ‘What kind of policeman do we have that would be angry that policy was violated?’  

‘They ought to say what I was trained to do is what I’m expected to do. You cannot have a set of rules for citizens and a different set of rules for policemen. They must follow policy and they should not be mad about it,’ Sharpton continued.    

But several officers are angry, evident by the statement from the Police Benevolent Association (PBA), and Lynch, who has remained an active voice in defense of Pantaleo’s actions. 

‘The damage is already done. The NYPD will remain rudderless and frozen, and Commissioner O’Neill will never be able to bring it back. Now it is time for every PO in this city to make their own choice,’ Lynch said. 

Lynch said O’Neill ‘has chosen politics and his own self-interest over the police officers he claims to lead’.

He went on to say that O’Neill ‘will wake up tomorrow to discover that the cop-haters are still not satisfied, but it will be too late’. 

Garner’s repeated dying cries of ‘I can’t breathe,’ widely heard on social media, became a rallying cry for the Black Lives Matter movement, which protests what its leaders call the disparate use of excessive force against black people across the US.

A Staten Island grand jury and the US Department of Justice both declined to prosecute in one of a series of cases in which a law enforcement officer faced no criminal liability for killing an unarmed black man. 

New York City’s mayor, Bill de Blasio, has previously declined to say whether he believed Pantaleo should lose his job but has been promising ‘justice’ to the Garner family. 

Garner died in 2014 after Pantaleo grabbed him and wrestled him to a Staten Island sidewalk. In this still image (left) Garner is seen on the ground unresponsive as officers try to talk to him

Pantaleo (right) had previously been on desk duty since he was seen in widely viewed cellphone videos using a banned chokehold on Garner (left) on a Staten Island sidewalk during an attempted arrest

Timeline of key events in Eric Garner chokehold death

July 17, 2014: Eric Garner dies in a confrontation with Pantaleo after the officer placed him in what appeared to be a chokehold. Police had suspected Garner of selling loose, untaxed cigarettes on the street on New York City’s Staten Island. The confrontation is caught on amateur video, including Garner’s words ‘I can’t breathe,’ which become a rallying cry among protesters.

Aug. 1, 2014: The city medical examiner’s office rules Garner’s death a homicide caused by neck compressions from a chokehold.

Aug. 23, 2014: Over 2,500 people march on Staten Island in protest of Garner’s death.

Sept. 19, 2014: Dr. Michael Baden, a forensic pathologist hired by Garner’s family, agrees with findings that a chokehold caused Garner’s death. Patrick Lynch, the president of the Police Benevolent Association, says that Pantaleo used a ‘seatbelt’ maneuver and that the neck compressions were likely caused by lifesaving medical procedures.

Dec. 3, 2014: A grand jury weighing whether to indict him finds ‘no reasonable cause’ to bring charges against Pantaleo, triggering protests. U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder says federal authorities will conduct a civil rights investigation.

Dec. 20, 2014: A gunman ambushes two New York City Police officers in a patrol car and shoots them to death before killing himself. Authorities say Ismaaiyl Brinsley announced online he was planning to shoot two ‘pigs’ in retaliation for Garner’s death.

July 13, 2015: Garner’s family settles a lawsuit against the city for $5.9 million.

July 11, 2016: Garner’s siblings lend their voices to a song titled ‘I Can’t Breathe’ that was released for the second anniversary of his death.

June 21, 2017: Garner’s family, along with Al Sharpton, meet privately with Justice Department officials. They are told the investigation is still active.

April 19, 2018: Federal civil rights prosecutors recommend charging Pantaleo.

July 16, 2018: The New York Police Department says it will allow disciplinary proceedings against Pantaleo, saying it’s run out of patience with federal authorities’ indecision.

July 21, 2018: Disciplinary proceedings against Pantaleo begin.

May 13, 2019: After many delays, the NYPD disciplinary trial begins for Pantaleo.

May 14, 2019: The NYPD official in charge of training recruits says the restraint technique Pantaleo used on Garner ‘meets the definition’ of a chokehold. The practice was banned in the 1990s.

June 6, 2019: The disciplinary hearing for Pantaleo ends. It can take up to three months before an administrative judge recommends a punishment to the police commissioner.

July 16, 2019: Federal prosecutors say they will not bring charges against Pantaleo, a decision made one day before the five-year anniversary of Garner’s death.

Aug. 2, 2019: NYPD Deputy Commissioner and departmental administrative judge Rosemarie Maldonado recommends that Pantaleo be fired.

Pantaleo was suspended pending the decision of O’Neill.

Aug. 19, 2019:  New York police commissioner James O’Neill announces the firing of Pantaleo.


During a press conference shortly after 2pm, de Blasio said: ‘We ended a chapter that has brought our people so much pain and so much fear over the last five years. 

‘The pain was because we all watched a human being die before our eyes on a video… a man who should be still alive today.

‘The fear was because for a long time people wondered if we would be left without justice. The place that we had turned, for generations to, a place that was synonymous with making things right failed us. 

‘The US Department of Justice, absent and unwilling to act even to come to any decision for five long years. 

‘But today, we have finally seen justice done. Today, we saw the NYPD’s own disciplinary process act fairly and impartially.’

De Blasio then said he hopes that O’Neill’s decision would bring some ‘small measure of closure and peace to the Garner family’. 

The mayor encouraged the city to move forward and continue to create a better society. 

Gwen Carr, mother of Eric Garner speaks during a press conference outside police headquarters in New York on August 19

She is seen surrounded by supporters as she speaks during a press conference

‘I see this as a sacred mission we all must take on. We must devote ourselves to this simple goal: No person, no family, and no community should ever go through the agony that we’ve all experienced over these last years. 

‘It should never happen again, in this city or this country. As the only goal that is acceptable, let this be the last tragedy. We all have to confront our history honestly and it’s not a history that we can always be proud of.

‘But I know that the NYPD of today is a different institution than it was just a few years ago. I know that the NYPD has changed profoundly. I know members of the NYPD learned the lessons of this tragedy. They acted on it; they did something about it. 

‘It is a beginning but we have a lot more to do,’ de Blasio said. 

‘I want to say to our police officers: “You made a good and noble choice to protect others…we need you and we need you to build deeper trust with all of the people you serve”. 

‘Because that is not only the right thing to do, it is the best way to keep everyone safe,’ he said.  

Pantaleo’s lawyer has insisted the officer used a reasonable amount of force and didn’t mean to hurt Garner.

O’Neill’s decision comes two weeks after Maldonado made her recommendation on August 2. On Sunday, the full text of her opinion was released by The New York Times. 

The documents show that Internal Affairs investigators interviewed Pantaleo on December 8, 2014. 

New York City’s mayor, Bill de Blasio (pictured), said during a press conference: ‘Today, we have finally seen justice done. Today, we saw the NYPD’s own disciplinary process act fairly and impartially’ 

Police Benevolent Associaton President Patrick J. Lynch spoke alongside Pantaleo’s attorney Stuart London (right) on Monday afternoon. Lynch reiterated his statement and continued to condemn O’Neill’s decision 

The transcript of that interrogation was introduced during his disciplinary trial in place of Pantaleo’s direct testimony.

During their questioning, the investigators asked Pantaleo to describe the chokehold maneuver that had been banned by the NYPD in 1993 due to its lethal risks.

Pantaleo defined the action as a move where ‘you use your forearm, grasped with the other hand, and you pull back with your forearm onto the windpipe, preventing him from breathing’. 

Even after being forced to watch the video of himself wrapping his forearm around Garner’s neck before grasping one hand with the other and pulling back, Pantaleo maintained that he did not choke the Staten Island father-of-six. 

‘No, I did not,’ Pantaleo said when asked by investigators if he’d applied a chokehold. 

That explanation didn’t make sense to Maldonado who in the 46-page document, described Pantaleo’s chokehold denial as ‘implausible and self-serving’.

‘I found [Pantaleo’s] uncorroborated hearsay statements explaining his actions to be untruthful,’ Maldonado wrote. 

‘First, I found [Pantaleo] to be disingenuous when he viewed the video and denied using a chokehold, even though his actions were completely consistent with his own erroneous and restrictive definition of the Patrol Guide prohibition.’

The full text of NYPD administrative judge Rosemarie Maldonado’s 46-page opinion recommending officer Daniel Pantaleo be fired following his departmental disciplinary trial was released Sunday by the New York Times

Maldonado went on to say that the evidence contradicted Pantaleo’s rationalization that the positioning of his elbow protected Garner from being choked and that Pantaleo’s police academy instructor, retired Sgt Russell Jung, gave ‘unpersuasive testimony on critical factual issues’.

‘Specifically, [Pantaleo’s] self-serving version of events failed to satisfactorily account for the uncontroverted medical evidence of hemorrhaging in Mr. Garner’s anterior neck muscles and thus tribunal’s own assessment of the video evidence capturing [Pantaleo] clasping his hands and pressing his forearm against Mr. Garner’s neck…

‘This tribunal finds that Respondent used a prohibited chokehold as defined by the Patrol Guide during this physical encounter,’ Maldonado continued.

‘The preponderance of the credible evidence established that Respondent’s use of a prohibited chokehold was reckless and constituted a gross deviation from the standard of conduct established for a New York Police officer.’

Pantaleo was suspended from the force on August 2 after Maldonado’s ruling was issued. 

He spent five years on modified desk duty and received multiple pay raises, including a 14 per cent salary increase in 2016 to an annual total of just shy of $120,000 including overtime, according to the New York Daily News.  

New York City students and youth activists participate in a news conference and rally to commemorate the lives of Garner and Delrawn Small, both of whom were killed by police in different incidents

Demonstrators have continuously called on Mayor Bill de Blasio to fire Pantaleo at protests around New York City

Four officers attempted to arrest Garner, 43, on suspicion of illegally selling cigarettes on a sidewalk in Staten Island on July 17, 2014.  

In a bystander’s video, it appeared that Pantaleo initially tried to use two approved restraint tactics on Garner, who was much larger at 6-foot-2 and about 400lbs, but ended up wrapping his arm around Garner’s neck for about seven seconds as they struggled against a glass storefront window and fell to the sidewalk.

Meanwhile, another officer pressed Garner’s head to the pavement. 

The footage showed Garner, who was 43 at the time, crying out, ‘I can’t breathe,’ at least 11 times before he fell unconscious. 

The medical examiner’s office said a chokehold contributed to Garner’s death.

Questions about the handling of the case have dogged Democratic Mayor de Blasio during his long-shot run for president, with some protesters at the recent debate in Detroit chanting, ‘Fire Pantaleo’.

In 2015, New York City paid a $5.9million settlement to Garner’s family to avoid a civil lawsuit. 

Garner’s death came at a time of a growing public outcry over police killings of unarmed black men that sparked the national Black Lives Matter movement.

Just weeks later, protests erupted in Ferguson, Missouri, over the fatal shooting of unarmed teenager Michael Brown.

And later in 2014, a man angry about the Garner and Brown cases shot two New York City police officers to death in their cruiser in retribution.

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