After a five-year battle, Eric Garner’s family has seen to it that the officer responsible for issuing an illegal chokehold in his July 17, 2014 death, be terminated from the New York Police Department.
On Monday, NYPD commissioner James O’Neill hosted a press conference where he revealed his final decision to fire Pantaleo after a lengthy departmental disciplinary trial.
“None of us can take back our decisions,” O’Neill said according to NBC News 12, “especially when they lead to the death of another human being.”
According to CNN, Pantaleo was not informed of his firing ahead of O’Neil’s announcement. He will also not receive his pension, but any contributions he made will be returned to him the outlet reports.
The decision to fire Pantaleo also corroborates Mayor Bill de Blasio’s debate statement that the Garner family would receive a decision soon in the lengthy trial. The mayor and 2020 presidential candidate was grilled about the case after demonstrators at the last Democratic presidential debate demanded accountability.
O’Neill will no doubt be embroiled in a heap of politics with the NYPD’s police union, who issued a statement in condemnation of his decision.
“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,” Police Benevolent Association of New York President Patrick Lynch wrote.
At the trial Pantaleo’s lawyers argued the officer used an approved seatbelt moved, denying that Pantaleo used an illegal chokehold to restrain Garner as they struggled.
Earlier this summer the Justice Department announced that it would not pursue federal charges against Pantaleo closing a five-year probe for civil rights violations.
Garner’s death. captured via cell phone footage, helped spur the trajectory of advocating for the lives of Black men and women in the United States. His last words, “I can’t breathe,” became a resounding, yet heartbreaking manifestation of the systemic struggles that Black communities face. Months after his death, a Staten Island grand jury failed to bring forth charges in the case.
Garner’s family has also suffered heavily as his death reverberated across the country. His daughter Erica Garner followed in death three years after her father lost his life. Three weeks ago the Garner family suffered another painful loss when Eric’s stepfather died in Jamaica while he was visiting for his daughter’s wedding. Not to mention the imprisonment of Ramsey Orta, the witness who filmed the police encounter.
Hopefully the firing of Pantaleo leads to some form of resolution for the family who has suffered tremendously from the loss of their loved one over the last five years.