NYPD to DOJ: We're Not Waiting Anymore for Justice for Eric Garner
By Rocco Parascandola
The New York Police Department on Monday said that after four years it is done waiting and will place Officer Daniel Pantaleo on trial in the chokehold death of Eric Garner.
Deputy Commissioner Lawrence Byrne, the NYPD's top lawyer, said in a letter sent Monday that unless the feds publicly announce by Aug. 31 whether Pantaleo will be prosecuted, the NYPD will soon after serve him with departmental charges, with an eye on a trial at the beginning of 2019.
Byrne said the decision was made because the DOJ in the spring told police its probe of Garner's death is over. The DOJ had no comment about the letter, or the reason for not making its findings known, though Byrne suspects the feds are waiting until the confirmation hearings for Eric Dreiband as assistant attorney general of the Civil Rights Division.
"We feel we've given then sufficient time," Byrne told reporters. "They still have sufficient time ... to act, and if they choose, as I said in the letter, if they choose to announce they're going to file criminal charges we'll stand down.
"If there's no announcement then we need to move ahead at this point."
That means the anticipated case against Pantaleo _ who brought Staten Island husband and father Garner to the ground using a banned chokehold that contributed to his death _ will begin "on or promptly after September 1, 2018," according to Byrne's letter, sent to DOJ deputy chief, Paige Fitzgerald.
Byrne noted the NYPD has, since the 43-year-old Garner's death four years ago, delayed its internal disciplinary proceedings "so as not to have an adverse impact on any ongoing federal criminal civil rights investigation or possible federal criminal prosecution."
But, Byrne added, while the DOJ has regularly updated the NYPD, it is clear "that a definite date by which time a final decision by the U.S. DOJ will be rendered in this matter cannot be predicted."
The letter does not mention any officer by name.
In addition to eyeing Pantaleo, the NYPD has slapped departmental charges against Sgt. Kizzy Adonis, who responded to the scene after the incident _ which bystander Ramsey Orta recorded on his cellphone _ and is accused of failing to supervise.
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