- NYPD officer Daniel Pantaleo has been fired, New York City Police Commissioner James O’Neill announced on Monday.
- Pantaleo used a banned chokehold on Garner, and his dying words of “I can’t breathe” became a rallying cry against police brutality across the nation.
- Pantaleo’s lawyers had said their client didn’t mean to hurt Garner.
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The New York police officer involved in the death Eric Garner five years ago has been fired, New York City Police Commissioner James O’Neill announced on Monday, according to the Associated Press.
Daniel Pantaleo used a banned chokehold on Garner, and his dying words of “I can’t breathe” became a rallying cry against police brutality across the nation.
Pantaleo has denied wrongdoing, and his lawyers have said their client didn’t mean to hurt Garner. A grand jury declined to indict Pantaleo, and federal authorities declined to bring civil rights charges.
O’Neill said in a news conference Monday afternoon that he fired Pantaleo on the recommendation of a department disciplinary judge, calling Garner’s death an “irreversible tragedy” that “must have a consequence.”
Pantaleo “can no longer effectively serve as a New York City police officer,” he said.
“None of us can take back our decisions, especially when they lead to the death of another human being,” O’Neill said.
O’Neill’s decision to fire Pantaleo comes after years of activists and politicians calling for Pantaleo to lose his job.
New York City mayor Bill de Blasio has been criticised over his handling of the case, but has promised “justice” for Garner’s family.
The president of the police union, Patrick Lynch said after Pantaleo’s firing that O’Neill chose “politics and his own self-interest over the police officers he claims to lead.”
He said in a statement to AP that police officers should “proceed with the utmost caution in this new reality, in which they may be deemed ‘reckless’ just for doing their job.”
Garner, 43, died on Staten Island after New York police officers approached him on suspicion of selling single, or “loosie” cigarettes.
In footage filmed by a bystander, Pataleo initially tried two approved restraints, but then wrapped his arms around Garner’s neck, according to AP.
Garner, who was 6-foot-2 and 400-pounds, cried out “I can’t breathe” at least 11 times before falling unconscious.
NYPD has banned the use of chokeholds for more than 25 years. The department defines a chokehold as “any pressure to the throat or windpipe, which may prevent or hinder breathing or reduce intake of air,” according to The New York Times.
The New York City medical examiner determined at the time that Garner died from a chokehold and compression on his chest.
His death came amid a growing outcry over police use of force and the deaths of unarmed black men. Weeks after Garner’s death, protests erupted in Ferguson, Missouri, over the shooting death of teenager Michael Brown.
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